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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #40 on: October 30, 2021, 09:32:33 AM »

LATE OCTOBER UPDATE

I just wanted to show you all this background I painted for the battles in the first part of the game.

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JobLeonard
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« Reply #41 on: November 01, 2021, 07:23:08 AM »

Nice! Looks like you cleaned up the UI a bit too no? Looks good!
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #42 on: November 03, 2021, 03:10:38 PM »

Nice! Looks like you cleaned up the UI a bit too no? Looks good!

Yeah I got a bit frustrated with how detailed I'd drawn the background and cleaned up the UI (as... revenge? I don't know), but it turned out better. Kinda Dragon Quest-UI-like.
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« Reply #43 on: November 21, 2021, 10:05:21 AM »

November Update. Words and Colors.

Progress has been good recently.

BACKGROUNDS AND COLORS

For a long time I’ve struggled with how to paint backgrounds. In the last post you saw another attempt. An attempt I am admittedly proud of, but I believe it doesn’t work in a number of ways, that are connected with the rest of this post.

It’s a question of fidelity and skill. The most important part is that I am not a very good artist (in a number of ways). Beyond that I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to this game. I’ve designed the monsters and the girl as best I could, and I believe they work decently for their purpose. Painting 3-4 different landscapes however, was simply too daunting. I finally got started, and the result was as you saw before. It’s not ugly, but neither is it amazing. I don’t scuff at “good enough”, but unfortunately, I believe I hit a fidelity that I can’t keep up with. Furthermore, I think it all became too much: Too vibrant, too colourful, too detailed. The characters, the foreground, the background, the UI.

Cave Story and Kero Blaster always comes to mind for me. Pixel is a great artist, but he is also great at restrain. I want to achieve something similar to that. I then came across Arne Niklas Jansson's (androidarts) fictional console, the Famicube. Without explaining too much, it provided me with a decent, 64 color palette and some technical restraints, that I tried to apply to my own art.


I believe the experiment is a success. There's a greater cohesion entire roster, and when I went back to the background with a meat cleaver, I achieved something that is a lot relaxing to the eye. Below is a little mockup.


WORDS

Then there was the question of story and dialogue. I hate writing dialogue. I am not a writer, and I don't want to tell a story with this game. Yet I also realise that context is important for the player. Furthermore, I spent a long time trying to systemise and gamify the progress of the overall game. It never clicked. It wasn't fun as a meta game, and it was a lot more resource intense than trying to write some dialogue. At least, so I thought. After a lot of iteration, I've finally arrived a level of detail in the dialogue (which I try to keep sparse) that doesn't make me ache when I read it, and gives enough context for the how and the why and the where. I have an outline for an article on about "narrative as a gameplay container", that I want to write, but haven't quite figured out yet. In either case, this dialogue approach has allowed me to feel like the first world is basically done (yay!) and to move on to the second: The City.

THE CITY

This is the final thing I've been working on. Both to design and implement the levels of world 2, but also to paint the map in a, again, a level of detail and presentation that I can handle. My girlfriend took a shot at fixing the map I already had, and though we clashed on the style I wanted, her input definitely pushed in a direction that I far more appreciate now. It's grid-based (16x16 pixel tiles) and (of course) uses the Famicube palette.


As I noted on Twitter, it's based on my memory of staying in Kyoto for a couple of weeks, ten years ago, right around the great earthquake. Dear lord I loved that city.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #44 on: November 22, 2021, 03:38:13 AM »

Quote
I hate writing dialogue. I am not a writer, and I don't want to tell a story with this game.
Could have fooled me, a title like "The Girl Who Kicked A Rabbit" is one of the more evocative ones I've heard in ages

I love both the old and the new graphics, but I see what you mean with not having too many distractions
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #45 on: November 22, 2021, 06:34:46 AM »

Quote
I hate writing dialogue. I am not a writer, and I don't want to tell a story with this game.
Could have fooled me, a title like "The Girl Who Kicked A Rabbit" is one of the more evocative ones I've heard in ages

I love both the old and the new graphics, but I see what you mean with not having too many distractions

Maybe I should have said "I'm not a fiction writer" :D I love writing a lot of stuff, but writing dialogue is always my bane. In the end, it's a question of training. Every character sound like myself when I write dialogue. Plus characters need motivation and development and blah blah blah. Ain't nobody got time for all that bull-honky. I'm still glad that people(you) enjoy the title so much. After so much iteration, that's a real win.

Woof. You "love" the graphics? I don't think I can handle that amount of praise. Hopefully the finished game will communicate itself as "clear/easy to read" and not just "I do retro-like pixel art because I'm terrible" (though that's true as well).
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #46 on: November 22, 2021, 07:35:12 AM »

I don't "love" the graphics, I love the graphics, minus the air-quotes Tongue

Yes, they're retro-pixel style and yes, that is partially due to developer time/skill budget. But that doesn't devalue them in the slightest, and they work very well within those constraints.

Trust me, I got an arts degree (not even joking there, no idea how I managed that or what I'm supposed to do with it, but I do).
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #47 on: December 23, 2021, 12:54:37 PM »

December Update.

Alright. End-of-the-year-update.

2021 was good for the game's progress. Sort of. I've come pretty far, and more importantly, I really like what the game has become. My buddy is helping with the music, and the three tracks he has supplied so far are just so perfect for the energy I want to convey, so when you get to hear them, I hope you'll become his fans as well.

My motivation for the game hasn't waned, but I've been feeling pretty bad about how I hadn't really been getting any reactions for the game online. Twitter is... not a good place. So as all sane people I started a thread on 4chan, and I just got so many good and bad reactions, it felt absolutely great. You hear people who get bad reactions say stuff like "rather bad reactions, than no reactions", and for a guy who consistently get zero reactions on social media for his game, that is absolutely true. The end result was some real good feedback, and a couple of people who wanted to try and early build. One of those immediately gave it a go and wrote me back some super useful feedback. The gif below is some of UI improvements based on what he said.


Next, I was so satisfied with how the World 2 map turned out, that I went back and made the World 1 map grid-based as well, and the result below works very nicely, I think. I've made an early stab at the World 3 map, and while I don't show it here, I believe it's consistently the right way to go for this game.


In the final image below, you can see how it's going with the battle background for World 2 levels, and observe how a powerful combo can be setup in the game to absolutely obliterate your opponents.


And what did I do tonight? I spent two hours coming up with the final level names for World 2. So a little preview:


• The Solar Boys: Konbini Bloodsport.

• DIY Thermonuclear Karaoke

• Friendly Local Neighbourhood Arcane Charcuterie

• Drinking in a Place That Ceased to be Long Ago

• bar Dream Pop New Winter

• Origami With an IED

• Suave, Assertive, Cryptozoological.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #48 on: December 24, 2021, 04:08:10 AM »


• The Solar Boys: Konbini Bloodsport.

• DIY Thermonuclear Karaoke

• Friendly Local Neighbourhood Arcane Charcuterie

• Drinking in a Place That Ceased to be Long Ago

• bar Dream Pop New Winter

• Origami With an IED

• Suave, Assertive, Cryptozoological.
I'd buy an album with that track list

Merry christmas and happy new year to you too! Coffee
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #49 on: December 24, 2021, 06:49:44 AM »

Game is cancelled! I got Dragon Quest XI for Christmas (yes we celebrate Christmas on the 24th here, like a pack of dirty heathens).

I'd buy an album with that track list

Merry christmas and happy new year to you too! Coffee

I should hound Musician for 4 more tracks! Dynamite idea!
« Last Edit: December 24, 2021, 07:05:15 AM by Sketchwhale » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: January 17, 2022, 06:11:36 AM »

January Update.

TUTORIALIZATION

During Christmas I sorta had an epiphany. I thought I had at long last discovered just how to teach this game. The answer was helpful, comment-like side-quests. If I wanted people to know that there were other moves than Kick, I could suggest “Try using Volatile”, and if I wanted them to understand the crafting, I could gamify it (I know. Gamifying a game mechanic? wtf): “Can you unlock Freeze?”. This was heavily inspired by the built-in tutorial of Threes.

Yeah that didn’t really work. I let a friend try the game and she didn’t understand even the simplest mechanic. I didn’t even feel like I asked a non-gamer (she claims to not be a gamer, but… you can’t complete The Witcher 3 and just not accept that title).

So yeah. This game isn’t especially original from my perspective. I only see a bunch of uninspired mechanics, thrown together in a way people haven’t seen before, but they definitely have seen each individual mechanic before, so how can they not get it?


I acquiesced and designed a World 0. A tutorial world. The very thing I had not wanted to create. There were multiple issues with the concept, and I really wanted to give people the joy of discovery, I had seen some playtesters have, when it dawned on them how the mechanics worked.

Of the issues I mentioned, I mostly dreaded how to convey information. People skip text, or subconsciously refuse to read it, while trying to do the very thing the text tells them to do. I gave it a shot and created 4 levels that introduced mechanics, and let you play around with them, and then told you to exit the level once you felt comfortable. I then let my girlfriend try it.

If my ego had been bruised before by the other friend, this one was a regular beating. Fortunately, like any good pimp, after she had wrecked my beautiful face, she patched me up and helped me iterate my way to a much improved tutorial world.


At this point, finding more playtesters is really what I need. I am simply not currently qualified to look at my own work, and say whether or not it’s something a person can learn by playing, reading, or experimenting.

SOMEONE, PLAY MY GAME!!!

GENRE DEFINITION

I’ve long looked for the correct genre with which to define The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit. I used “JRPG” for a long time, because that was the easiest way, although I didn’t feel it actually fit (I’m starting to realize many people have wildly different opinions on what constitutes JRPG (someone said Advance Wars was one!)). Most recently I’ve turned to calling it a Magical Turn-Based Adventure, losing all semblance of meaning.

Defining the game is important for marketing, conversation, and probably my under development. In many ways this game is a bastard. It controls partly like a JRPG, yet its actions are mechanically more complex than usually found in JRPGs, and each action can have more meaning for your progress, having more resemblance with a euro-boardgame. Yet those kinds of games are almost built around a notion of every action having meaning, and inversely punishing you severely for not comprehending this. My game, again, much like a JRPG, is more lenient, allowing you to have a good, relaxing time. You get to chill and hang out in The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit.

Just for good measure, I’m not saying JRPGs are stupid. They are often brilliant. The throwaway battles let you have a relaxing time, while the boss, and especially superboss, fights, require you to understand very complex systems, and prepare accordingly, adding in even more systems. To a certain extent, I’m trying to let players have some of that superboss fun, without having to create a narratively heavy 30-hour experience.

BLOG POST

I just wanted to mention how I took an old Tim Rogers article, and turned it into a huge paraphrased mess. I really enjoyed his observations in the original, so I created this.
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #51 on: March 28, 2022, 11:33:56 AM »

March/April Update



Alright! I’m not back, cause I never left.

It’d be weird to claim there’s been huge progress on The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit. Yet on the other hand, what else are you going to call it? Balancing changes feel boring to report on, but damn if they don’t change everything.

Visually, I finally ditched the old green-haired-girl design of the heroine. Is her name still Aaa? I’m not sure it ever definitely was. It’s strange. Her original design was part of what originally inspired the game, but it felt out of date, didn’t match the design of the enemies, and was way too difficult to animate. I tried to sneak in some huge tits on her, but it didn’t look right. If only I was a better artist, I could put huge tits on everything.

Perhaps more important, yet also superficial, is that I finally acquiesced and positioned the characters in a more classical JRPG (Mario RPG) setup: hero on the left, enemies on the right. It helps everyone understand what’s going on a lot better, and I was able to add the girl actually moving to the enemy she is attacking. It feels pretty great. I just really enjoyed her being beset by evil bunnies on all sides.

Which brings me to my new mantra: save it for the sequel. I love telling myself that. Should it be real-time? Save it for the sequel. How about- Save it for the sequel!


ACTUAL PROGRESS

That’s all nice and well, but what about ACTUAL progress? Well, levels for world 1 and 2 are designed and implemented, though the boss for world 2 is pretty wonky. I’ve continued to iterate on the tutorial intro-world, and I’m getting conflicted feedback from testers (hobos I keep in my basement). Sometimes they say they just want to see their children again. Others tell me they understand part a, but not part b, and the third group the other way around. At this point, I’m worried the cops will notice, and I can’t really dumb it down anymore, before I implement mobile game-style tutorials, and those things are terrible.

I was designing the levels for the third world, when I had an idea that would normally prompt me to say my mantra, when instead I said fuck it, if you can’t radically change things without worrying about the consequences, why else be an indie dev? So I did it.

MAP DESIGN SESSION

World 3’s theme was giving me trouble for a long time. Many of the ideas were for the sequel-like (not the Japan-only updated Bravely Default). World 2 eventually settled on a very battle-heavy design, and I expected world 3 to continue that philosophy. While world 2 was based on a specific area of downtown Kyoto, I thought of world 3 as the streets leading to the Kiyomizu temple, mixed with a matsuri-feel. My programmer partner had requested it be a carnival of sorts, because he likes Nier Automata (who doesn’t?), but I could only do so much. A matsuri event is basically a carnival, right? Yet, despite settling on a theme, it felt like it should have a differentiating mechanic from world 2. One that wouldn’t require me to implement some new and elaborate system. I’d been down that path before, and they all eventually feel thin and tacked on. At some point recently, the local-neighbourhood-feel I was getting from the map, inspired me to create a different type of focus for the map. I hope you’ll enjoy it (without spoiling it). What I can show is how I spent last evening with my girlfriend, updating the map. She is an architect, and that comes in handy when you’re creating a map.

Below is the old map for world three.


I mentioned the streets leading to Kiyomizu. I remember them as narrow, big stones for the road surface, and lots of little shops along the way. This made me think of a wooden town, with a mainroad, and a few side-paths.

Last night I had the idea to divide the towns into smaller segments, only clearly showing the segment you’re currently in. I imagined the main road would feel more like a bigger area, and the little streets would feel a bit like those in Final Fantasy IX’s Alexandria. Visually I enjoyed the experiment, but Girlfriend didn’t feel like it worked. She explained that the composition of the area didn't really communicate the area I was going for. We had a pretty good back and forth about what could change, and what would require too much effort on my part (i.e. too many new resources, or too difficult resources), but eventually worked together in changing details of the map. The result is below:


As you can see, I had initially placed the bigger buildings randomly, but it would make more sense to keep them close to the mainroad area. Furthermore, the side areas were so long, that, especially the top one, they competed in being other main roads. After moving stuff around, we spent a little extra time trying to keep the side areas retain their twisty-turny features. Beyond that, I tried to turn off a lot more window lights. Too many bright spots confuse the player, and makes it impossible to focus on specific areas.

Designing these maps is a great joy, because the battle backgrounds are often without a sense of place, so I get to create that here. What has been difficult, has been to find other games I can draw inspiration from. I think you can see the Advance Wars inspiration. Unfortunately, Advance Wars doesn’t feature night maps or urban areas. I looked at Wargroove, the Advance Wars/Fire Emblem-like, but it is fantasy based. The old GB/GBC/GBA Pokémon games match very well their setting, and they too are very grid-based, but The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit is closer to a GBA game than a GB/GBC game, and sadly Game Freak didn’t include night time for the GBA games (which I’m sad about on multiple fronts, cause nighttime in Gold/Silver seemed awesome, but I skipped 2nd gen back then).

What do you think of the results? As always, I welcome comments, and if anybody want to give the game a try in its unfinished form I’ll appreciate the feedback.

WRITING

I’ll just plug my blog: I invented a dice game, and I wrote a review of the original Final Fantasy VII, which I replayed in February.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2022, 05:52:46 AM by Sketchwhale » Logged

JobLeonard
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« Reply #52 on: March 29, 2022, 01:17:17 AM »

Nice update! And nice blog posts

I really like how the enemies "announce" their next move, don't know if that is common in modern JRPGs but I haven't seen in before. Immediately makes me try to come up with the best countering strategy, which makes combat more interesting Smiley
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« Reply #53 on: March 29, 2022, 05:20:39 AM »

Nice update! And nice blog posts
Mega thanks! I enjoyed writing them Smiley

I really like how the enemies "announce" their next move, don't know if that is common in modern JRPGs but I haven't seen in before. Immediately makes me try to come up with the best countering strategy, which makes combat more interesting Smiley

I'm glad you like it. I had long thought it would be good if players got to discover the enemy behaviour. Alas, it was too much to ask, and I realised I find it very fun to play, despite always being aware what everyone is going to do. Complexity of multiple behaviours, and the non-determinism of enemy spawning and drops, seems to still be plenty to keep in your head.

Enemies probably don't need to announce their moves in other JRPGs, since strategy is only necessary in boss fights. I want to achieve the relaxed feeling of playing a JRPG, but I have veered dangerously close to making this game too tactical. Nothing wrong with it, just not what I'm trying to achieve. Players will have to determine if I achieve a nice middle-ground.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #54 on: March 29, 2022, 05:48:16 AM »

Exactly! I feel it it actually would shift the game away from "just go for strongest attack" to strategizing. And there's quite a few deterministic strategy games that show you don't need randomness for deep gameplay.

So you came up with this yourself? Cool!
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« Reply #55 on: April 04, 2022, 09:02:39 AM »

So you came up with this yourself? Cool!

I'm not quite sure which "this". you mean Smiley ?
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #56 on: April 05, 2022, 12:52:13 AM »

Enemy signalling what its next move is Smiley
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Sketchwhale
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« Reply #57 on: April 05, 2022, 10:11:25 AM »

Enemy signalling what its next move is Smiley

Oh that part :D It was a feature that was requested a bounce of times. I tried to do a parabola like in Heroland and Final Fantasy XII, but it became very noisy, and I couldn't figure out a good way to do the math :D
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« Reply #58 on: July 17, 2022, 02:03:59 PM »

July Update

Summer-greetings people!

Since the last time I started a new job, went to “Nordic Game Jam,” and steadily plugged away at this here game.

World 3

This turned into a sort of an "adventure-game" intermission. Having to design more levels in the vein of world 2 was making me tired, and I imagined players might feel similarly exhausted after the world 2's boss fight (It can be quite tough, but it feels real good to beat). Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of playtesters recently, and of those I’ve had, no one has played all the way to world 3, so how they take this change of pace is hard to say.

"Møgluder: The Rabbit Age"/Nordic Game Jam

This is kind of related to The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit. A couple of friends and I went to what used to be the biggest physical game jam (before Covid), and we made what I consider to be a fantastic game. It’s called “Møgluder: The Rabbit Age,” and it's a puzzle game where you build your own fortresses and cannons from the fallen blocks. I meant for it to be a prequel to “The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit.” In the game jam version, it can’t really be called related, but I like to think of it as connected through some unspoken lore. Please, give it a try with some friends (game is tested with keyboard, DS4 and Nintendo Switch Pro controllers). Feedback is welcome, since we might try to finish it.

https://jmaa.itch.io/the-rabbit-age

UI Overhaul

Finally, the UI for The Girl Who Kicked a Rabbit received a nice overhaul. In a certain sense, a professional UI/UX artist gave it a good beating. Another way to put it, was that my girlfriend helped me out. There are many truths out there. Whichever is objectively true, the game looks a lot better now, and plays a lot better as well.

I applied for an indie spot at the Viborg Games Expo in September/October to show off the game and meet other creatives and game interested people. So should anybody be looking at this thread, and should any of those people happen to be in western Denmark at that time, come say “Hi!” (if I get the table).

Finally, I updated the page 1 post and the description page on takunomi.space, to reflect the game as it is today, so any sexy screenshots would be in that direction.
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JobLeonard
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« Reply #59 on: July 18, 2022, 04:43:12 AM »

Hey, gamejam game looks cool. Now I need to fiend a friend to try it out with Wink
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