RPG Maker Game Development Games Voting ; Play & Vote on these user-created games

Jun 23, 2009
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#51
I am reviewing GAFQuest by tensuke.

IN-JOKES: THE GAME! After a Star Wars-style intro containing a reference to an early YTMND meme, you begin the game as Evilore, a successful businessman who skips work to follow an elf down a manhole. (So basically Alice in Wonderland.) Other party members join you, who you'll find familiar if you've been reading GAF (and if you're reading this, you have.) You fight various trolls, of course, and rats (Get it? It's Miley Cyrus! She's a rat, am I right? ...No? Nothin'? ...Okay.) and the final boss shouldn't come as a terrible surprise, but I won't spoil it.

The game takes less than an hour to finish, and is not much to speak of mechanically. After finding your initial weapon, you won't upgrade anything. You gain money but there's nothing to spend it on. You have limited resources (since you can't shop) so escaping battles is actually a strategy. At least with that in mind, all the stamina heals (your HP) are full restores. You get various sizes of magic point restores.

Graphically it's not that good. Yes, you get to see various GAF avatars, and a nice segment showing an old picture, but there are graphical glitches that take away some enjoyment: chests turn into crates after they're opened, party member pictures overlap, and your experience is off to the right of the screen. At first I thought it was just removed, but after I gained a few levels I could see hints of numbers at the side. So you're not sure whether it's a point to grind another enemy or two, or just escape every battle. There's a simple puzzle that I'm glad they decided to try, but it does have some bad conveyance in that these circular obstacles disappear. I saw red turn to green, and assumed purple was next, but what had actually happened was red disappeared and green was next. Audio, however, is bangin'. They got some added tracks that are exciting without being too jarring for not being RPGmaker stock, and they even have a great audio effect as the music gets slightly muted when you enter an elevator. The tone is very tongue-in-cheek and hits you over the head with references as blatantly as bishop's banhammer. (Get it? He bans people! ...No? Really, nothin' again? ...Okay.)

Overall, it's cute for gaffers, I suppose, but non-members would take away nothing from the experience, and it doesn't have enough mechanics to keep the experience together.

Fun Factor: 2/5
Story: 3/5
Graphics: 1.5/5
Audio: 5/5
Tone: 2/5
Overall: 2.5/5

And that wraps it up for my RPGmaker reviews! As a special bonus, I'll just finish things off by pointing out the best in each category (in my opinon, of course. Feel free to play, review, and disagree.)

Most fun to play: RivalQuest. I was so ready to be the rival and see where the story led. And the gameplay was tight too.

Best story: Recurrence. Smartly written, doesn't rip off too terribly much from other works with the same concept, and really makes you want to see the main character succeed.

Best use of graphics: The Edge of Darkness. So simple and yet so elegant. Bordering and default black outside create a world you want to save. Too bad I wasn't up to the task. Honourable mention to K.G. whose devs put a lot of effort into their graphics, but didn't back it up with gameplay.

Best use of audio: GAFQuest. Who would have guessed? It got me pumped, and will probably get you pumped too. Honourable mention to Brodzilla, which really hooks you in with its opening track.

Best tone: Recurrence. A lot of these games went for comedy value, and I don't blame them. A lot of the games went for a dark "stop the approaching danger" and didn't let up. That's good too. But Recurrence had a good mix. The protagonist is in a strange situation, has some fun with it, but never takes his eyes off the very serious prize, and in the end you can see just how much it affects him. Honourable mention to The Age of Dusk, which was a "stop the approaching danger" theme but made things palpably heavy.

Best overall: Recurrence. Should come as no shock that the game which won two categories was the best overall. But don't think it was a runaway victory. RivalQuest, the Age of Dusk, and the Edge of Darkness were all hot on its heels. And a lot of the other games were solid efforts. Props to Murder Mystery Mansion for a creative use of RPGMaker as well as an admirable re-imagining of an old game. Props to Brodzilla for the fluffiest villain ever, and a suspenseful yet amusing tunnel scene. And props to everyone who submitted a game! I had a blast. I'm kinda sad it's over now, but all good things must come to an end.

Okay, that's it from me! Everyone else, get your reviews in!
 
Feb 16, 2011
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#52
The Last Willie by Bl4ckSunsh1n3 & kn1ves24

This was kind of a weird one. A short humor-RPG about a slob stopping a man-eater. There were a couple issues I had with the game. For one, while I appreciate a game differing from the usual Final Fantasy-esque character visuals, sometimes the worldly layout was kinda weird and it took me a while to figure certain things out because I couldn't visually tell what to do. The battle balance was a bit all over the place; I'd get my butt kicked by an enemy, but then I just level up once and suddenly I'm OHKOing them all no problem. I couldn't figure out why the spells were one-use sometimes either like Someguyinahat mentioned, but thankfully I only had to use them sparingly.
Gripes aside, it did have some amusing bits (Like how the antagonist would insult you depending on which enemy you lost to) and even if the enemies were difficult the game was lenient in letting you retry. The game has some showing flaws and I don't think I would replay it again, but the concept does show promise.
Regarding the spells, they aren't one use. They're all related to the TP and MP cost. Leveling up allows you to use them more in battle, because they are needed. We probably should have been more clear about that. They appear to be one use because of the MP cost of the first one learned. The cost of MP on the restoration is high because if it wasn't you would be able to use it too frequently early on and it would make the battles a good bit easier. Of course you could always buy a potion to refill your MP and use it again that way, once your TP builds up in a battle. :)

Thanks for the review. Like the others, much appreciated. I know I said before I wasn't going to review but, I figure I might as well since I'm playing them. Reviews incoming in the next few days.
 
Apr 4, 2009
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#53
Delinquet's Journey by Originalself

Sort of a run-of-the-mill RPG where you play kids fighting off problems involving the local school. I thought this was just going to be another 'meta game', but the meta jokes are used pretty sparingly. There could've been a bit more to explaining the story, like I didn't know why this kid was apparently bad, but I can let it slide for a demo.
And wow, people definitely didn't exaggerate the enemy encounters. In that first cave, every three or four steps I'd get hit with a slime group. And then I saw the
mouse room
and my jaw dropped. That being said, at least the game gives you good chances to level up so it's not a total waste to fight them. But yeah, enemy encounters need to be tuned down a notch.
Other than that though, I really liked the game a lot. I hope this game gents continued because I'd like to see more of it, especially if the issues get ironed out.
By the way, was it just me or
did the final boss just not hit me at all? His missed every single attack he used on me. Not sure if it was just a glitch or if that was supposed to happen.

Fun Factor: 3.5/5
Story: 3/5
Graphics: 3/5
Audio: 3.5/5
Tone: 2.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Regarding the spells, they aren't one use. They're all related to the TP and MP cost. Leveling up allows you to use them more in battle, because they are needed. We probably should have been more clear about that. They appear to be one use because of the MP cost of the first one learned. The cost of MP on the restoration is high because if it wasn't you would be able to use it too frequently early on and it would make the battles a good bit easier. Of course you could always buy a potion to refill your MP and use it again that way, once your TP builds up in a battle. :)
Oh, okay. I thought the spell was only TP related so I was confused why it wasn't letting me use it.
 
Jun 23, 2009
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#54
Delinquet's Journey by Originalself
By the way, was it just me or
did the final boss just not hit me at all? His missed every single attack he used on me. Not sure if it was just a glitch or if that was supposed to happen.
Just before you fight him, you're given that special soul armour. I'd say it's so effective it's quite literally plot armour.
 
Apr 4, 2009
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#57
So, unfortunately, I couldn't get Képzeletbeli Gyilkos to work on my computer. It loads up, glitches out and freezes. Tried various settings and both of the downloads but it still didn't bust. I am playing all these through Wine so that may be a reason but at the moment I have to skip reviewing that game.

Anyways, here's my review for The Age of Dusk by Noble Neckbeard:

Another JRPG-inspired game, but I'd say this is one of the more story-driven games of the bunch I've played so far. The story wasn't that bad either, though the sci-fi interludes threw me off guard a bit.

Man, this game is HUGE. Areas are gigantic and there's so many items hidden around to check out. This is definitely a game where you'll want to check every nook and cranny. There were a couple glitched portions, like walking through some objects and walls. The weapons giving you certain spells was a nice mechanic too. I'd say maybe spread spell weaknesses a bit in the future (Almost everything was weak to Water but I didn't find anything that budged to Fire)

Definitely one of my favorites so far of the bunch, can't wait to see the future installments

Fun Factor: 4/5
Story: 4/5
Graphics: 3/5
Audio: 3/5
Tone: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5
 

sld

Member
Oct 28, 2006
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Sweden
#58
I am reviewing My Miserable Island Vacation by Sebastian Lind/SLD (Super Seabass)

STATUS EFFECTS: THE GAME! The first chapter, you get blinded so much the battle music might as well have been "I Just Called to Say I Love You." The proc rate of blindness by the bats is over half. A lot of times, those first encounters will include two or three bats. If they don't kick your ass, expect battles of a dozen rounds or more as you constantly miss because you're constantly blind. "Use cure," you say? That works for one round. You get instantly blinded the next, and you're back to square one with less MP available for healing. This game REQUIRES an all-party cure, but it doesn't have it. And then you get to the rats. They're like bats, only they stun you instead of blind you. Do you like the difficulty curve of Etrian Odyssey, only without all that silly mapping? Then this is the game for you!

Almost every battle contains the constant worry of being stunned, paralyzed, put to sleep, confused, and hoping you can pull off a miracle before that happens. Battles are a frustrating slog. The developers in this forum suggest you get the best weapons and armour as soon as possible. And yes, those help. Later on in the game though you'll encounter monsters that can cause no damage if they attack you physically, but kill your entire party with magic in one hit, so it's reduced to an RNG battle.

But enough about the battles. The story is rather typical, complete with amnesiac protagonist. Your party, which maxes out at three, goes through several environments in the hopes of saving an island. Lots of world items are interactable, which makes for a humourous playing experience that rewards poking around. And of course, gay sex is played for laughs. The opening of the game is eerie and slightly disturbing, which contrasts the tone of the rest of the game, and is only revealed at the true ending. The true ending also manages to explain a few of the character's quirks, which I won't go into here - you'll just have to see it for yourself. The opening and ending also seemed to use an entirely different tileset. which makes for a refreshing change. Audio is used effectively. Overall,
You don't get to see the overall! You've been blinded!

Fun factor: 2.5/5
Story: 3/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Audio: 4/5
Tone: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Thanks for playing my game! Your review is very helpful. I appreciate that you're detailing the flaws you've found, instead of just saying something uninformative like "the battles are boring". This way, it's so much easier to improve instead and try to correct the things that aren't working out.

(
I actually nerfed the Bat's blind skill right before submitting the game... If you thought THIS was bad then ohhh boy.... :p
)

It will be interesting to see if more people find that there's way too much status effects going on. Still though, I'll definitely tone it down a notch when I continue working on it. I'll also tweak the enemy magic system a bit to avoid the one hit kills you mentioned. I hope those tweaks will make the battles more enjoyable and not as frustrating.

I'm happy that you noticed all the little interactions I put in. I spent a lot of time with that. Even though I know that's the kind of thing some players won't even notice, it's still stuff like that that I myself enjoy while playing RPG's.

Once again, thanks for the review, it's obvious you've spent some time analyzing the game and I'm really grateful for that. :)
 
#59
So, unfortunately, I couldn't get Képzeletbeli Gyilkos to work on my computer. It loads up, glitches out and freezes. Tried various settings and both of the downloads but it still didn't bust. I am playing all these through Wine so that may be a reason but at the moment I have to skip reviewing that game.
Yeah, I don't expect it to work well with Wine since it relies on DLLs and uses some heavy scripting to make RPGMaker perform things it normally doesn't do. (There isn't any standard RPGMaker stuff in there except for textboxes (and even those have pretty much been replaced with a custom script) Everything else is written from scratch.).
 
Jun 23, 2009
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#60
I'd say maybe spread spell weaknesses a bit in the future (Almost everything was weak to Water but I didn't find anything that budged to Fire)
That could be handwaved by saying it's the prologue and future chapters may include areas where things are weak to fire, such as an ice or snow level.

sld said:
It will be interesting to see if more people find that there's way too much status effects going on
It will be more interesting to me if they don't! :)
 
Oct 24, 2012
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#62
I am reviewing The Very Best by PsionBolt.
[...]
Woah, thanks for the heads-up! So there are game-breaking bugs... That's certainly no good to hear. My apologies. They're all really simple fixes, too. That really sucks.

Question - are we allowed to "patch" our games to remove game-breaking bugs?
I'd like to know this too, for obvious reasons! I kind of feel like the answer should be "no", since there was a time limit and all, but... Gah, I sure do hope the answer is yes.
 
Jun 23, 2009
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#63
Woah, thanks for the heads-up! So there are game-breaking bugs... That's certainly no good to hear. My apologies. They're all really simple fixes, too. That really sucks.
To make it easier on you, the bugged ones are Mason (and for some reason when I beat Mason I got the nurse cleric...Clara maybe?) Yohan and the woman he's protecting...and the guy at the table in the inn who will auto-recruit if you have a "beautiful person" in your inventory such as the angel. I forget what his name is. (I want to say Peter?)
 
Oct 24, 2012
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#64
To make it easier on you, the bugged ones are Mason (and for some reason when I beat Mason I got the nurse cleric...Clara maybe?) Yohan and the woman he's protecting...and the guy at the table in the inn who will auto-recruit if you have a "beautiful person" in your inventory such as the angel. I forget what his name is. (I want to say Peter?)
Yeah, thanks. All of the recruitment events are handled in a very systematic, copy-paste kind of way, so those things were very simple to fix. I took a quick look through the events just a couple minutes ago, and found those same four. Good to know those were the ones!

If you care enough to try again, you can get the updated version here (RTP) or here (no RTP). I understand if you don't feel like revisiting, though.

Edit - I've updated the links after reading Puru's review. Some of the bugs Puru found were new ones; I've now fixed those too.
 
Jun 23, 2009
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#65
Yeah, thanks. All of the recruitment events are handled in a very systematic, copy-paste kind of way, so those things were very simple to fix. I took a quick look through the events just a couple minutes ago, and found those same four. Good to know those were the ones!

If you care enough to try again, you can get the updated version here (RTP) or here (no RTP). I understand if you don't feel like revisiting, though.
Just finished it. That ending battle, yeesh! But it was fun. And yes, you're right, every character did deserve his or her own ending. Not only would it add super replayability but one would think the world would be very different if the king won it back, if a priest who wanted to end the TVB did, or if everyone simply ends up having to play tag. Or maybe you even learn the soldiers' names! Only a few minor errors now (like when Ken joins it tells you Clara does) but those are easily overlooked. Had I played this version for review, your score would probably be bumped to overall 3.5. You should pat yourself on the back for a good job.
 
Apr 4, 2009
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#66
Murder Mystery Mansion by Tempy

Really interesting use of an RPGM game. More of a 'quick-play' game than the usual adventure types, this is a pretty fun way to kill some time. It's generally simple but well-designed for what it is. I do agree with earlier sentiments that some extra insight into the murders could be mentioned, but I don't know if that would be possible with the randomization. Interesting little game.

Fun Factor: 3.5/5
Story: 2/5
Graphics: 3/5
Audio: 2.5/5
Tone: 4/5
Overall: 3/5
 
Nov 9, 2009
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#67
Really cool to see the constructive reviews that folks are leaving for the creators. I hope to get some time to try out at least a few of these before voting ends.
 
Apr 4, 2009
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#68
Brodzilla by Copons
Pretty fun action RPG. The audio/visual portions were definitely the best portions of this game imo; I liked how the photos/sprites melded together and the sounds were used well. The action battles were neat, but at times got hard to control over. The 'save disks as items' mechanic was an interesting challenge too, but I wasn't really saving the game that much to be honest. Even though the game gets linear near the end it's overall pretty enjoyable.


Fun Factor: 3.5/5
Story: 3/5
Graphics: 4/5
Audio: 4/5
Tone: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5
 
Sep 21, 2013
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France
#70
Képzeletbeli Gyilkos by ChainsawKitten:

First i'll start by saying i had to launch the game with japanese applocal to make it work, which was kinda interesting.

So this is not an RPG game, you just walk and talk to people while asking them some question in form of choices (think visual novel). It also works as a 2D side scroller rather than your regular birdview RPG.

I'll start by the art which is really good, i don't have much to say about it other than that. Probably the best entry so far in this category.
Audio was nice but it has a few themes, i liked it overall, maybe a bit repetitive at some point.
Story was strange, you're basically trying to figure out who killed a girl but as far as i went i don't know if there's an actual real answer at the end, you also end up seeing some strange shit giving you the same hint two times only to find absolutly nothing... I don't think it was bad but i didn't liked it either, i am left confused more than anything, while i'd try playing it again it was just so slow it would feel like a chore. But i'll talk about that in the "fun" category.
Tone, Overall pretty decent, not much to say about it.

Fun wise, i honestly didn't had much mainly because it was slow as can be, i understand some people don't like visual novels or point & click games because they are basically filled with text, but the first ones just throw text at you non stop, while the second one ask you to think a bit even if you will have to do some constant backtracking, but this game as none, you just walk like a slug to talk to people and ask them questions you feel would be the best, which i have no idea if they ultimatly change the end of the game or something. But not only you walk extremly slowly for no reason, some scenes takes far too much time to end, i honestly thought the game was bugged at the first scene with those mountains and trees (good thing is that when you have to see it again at least i knew it was done on purpose so i waited... and waited), and even when you change location it's just far to slow. Only to ear the car being used and stopped. It killed any will to try replaying the game for me.

Overall i'd say it's an interesting entry because it feels pretty unique but it has some heavy flaws, a solid effort overall but i feel i have to punish it a bit for how sluggish it felt.

Fun Factor: 1/5
Story: 2.5/5
Graphics: 4.5/5
Audio: 3.75/5
Tone: 3/5
Overall: 3/5
 
Sep 21, 2013
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France
#71
The Last Willie by Bl4ckSunsh1n3 & kn1ves24

This is a turn based RPG with no random encounters, you need to touch the mobs to initiate the fights.
Again i'll start with the art, i think it was pretty decent, people who don't like animu style should definitly enjoy this, my only issue was that the level sometimes felt unclear or simply strange, also there was several locations where you could go into terrain that were probably not meant to be.
Audio it was ok, nothing outstanding, nothing bad, average.
Story wasn't meant to be serious that's for sure, it was kinda fun sometimes but the overall story is quite simplistic. Still wondering why the final boss would basically save your ass non stop only to get her destroyed but whatever.
I didn't particulary enjoyed the dialogues that much, i felt it was kinda badly written overall. Even for something that didn't take itself seriously at all. Or maybe it was just to heavy for my taste.

Fun wise...
OK so if you haven't played this yet, first thing you need to do is to find the dagger in the forest, otherwise you won't do any damage, nothing, make sure to press escape or whatever key it was to find the "run away" option if you get caught, it will save you from letting yourself get killed because for some reason it is not one of the main choice. Then you need to grind, and grind, and grind until you can buy the adventurer coat or whatever it's named in the town shop because it increase your damage so much it's a dream made manifest, do NOT fight anything else than spiders or snake at first as it's a waste of time, you can explore the area for chests though. Then you can finally start to play the game and see more than spiders and snakes. The forest will consume most of your time, like really, second area i was there for 5 minute if not less, third for like 10 and the forest easily 20-25.
But even then it's pretty much only heal and spank for the rest of the game. At one point you'll find a shop with over expensive amulets, but there's no point buying one since a ring you'll find in a chest before you could even dream to have enough money to buy one will simply be superior.
The last boss was kinda tedious, it has so much hp, the fight lasted so long, to make it a guaranteed success i just "farmed" a specific mob that give you tons of cash and exp so i could become stronger and buy tons of full hp pots, but it still took years to end this fight.
Basically, i found this game extremly tedious to play, difficulty felt random, too much grind, item so expensive you will probably never buy them in time... not much else to say.

Overall, while i enjoyed the art style and a few dialogues, i felt this game was weak, i honestly forced myself to finish it which so far is a first.

Fun Factor: 1/5
Story: 2.5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Audio: 3/5
Tone: 2/5
Overall: 2.5/5
 
Jun 23, 2009
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#73
Thanks for the review. It needed more work and I see all of the points being made in the reviews as fair and reasonable. We didn't take the competition very seriously (more of a fun thing) and it's showing in how the serious reviews are (rightfully) killing it.
I guess you could say having fun making a game and having fun playing a game are two very different things. That said, you were one of 12 entries when over 100 said they were definitely still in the contest and planning to submit an entry. So reviews notwithstanding, you're still a winner in my eyes.
 
Sep 21, 2013
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France
#74
Ok last one for today.

RivalQuest by zashga

This is a turn based rpg with random encounters.
Art wise, there doesn't seem to be anything outside of the Maker assets, but overall it looks pretty good, the town looked good, the house looked good, the cavern looked good, nothing outstanding but a good job nonetheless.
Same goes for audio, the encounter battles were really giving me the will to fight though, good job overall.
Story wise, you're basically a guy who trained all his life in order to become the hero who is chosen by a stone, which.... screw you over and decide a total jackass would actually be the chosen hero of legends, he treats you like a turd, the villager ends up overglorifing him while treating you like some kind of nuisance, same for the royal guards, even the monster barely cares about you. And of course, you end up doing all the job, while the hero steal your glory and kick your ass on top of it. Sounds crazy and honestly it is, i was actually disappointed when it told me it was the end, i wanted more.
Dialogues were fun, light hearted and well written overall, lots of stuff you could interact with like the sparring partner teddy bear, it was pretty good.
Gameplay wise, it was heal and spank once again but one thing i LOVED was that after each encounter you would get all your HP back, so you could keep going non stop wacking everything in your way happily without having to go back to a inn, using pots constantly (not that you were worth of staying at a inn or buying pots reserved to the hero anyway) or running away from every encounters in order to keep going. Combat was not complex nor fun but it was so friendly i surprised myself killing everything.

Honestly, i was greatly pleased by this entry, it was fun, story could be interesting (will the playable character actually get some love or will he be screwed for the rest of his life?), combat was friendly enough to not be a chore but need more depth imo for future chapters, good job.

Fun Factor: 4.5/5
Story: 4/5
Graphics: 3/5
Audio: 3/5
Tone: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5

Thanks for the review. It needed more work and I see all of the points being made in the reviews as fair and reasonable. We didn't take the competition very seriously (more of a fun thing) and it's showing in how the serious reviews are (rightfully) killing it.
Honestly it is already nice you managed to finish a game with such a delay, especially if it was the first time you used RPG Maker. As long as you had some fun using the program it was definitly not a loss, also you could use the experience you got from this project to make more and more games while learning from some previous mistake.
I honestly doubt i could make something that isn't a dumb interaction game with deathtraps at every corner just to fulfill my sadistic side (i don't have the patience or i'd spend all my time on the visual side of the game meaning it would never really progress).
 
Feb 16, 2011
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#75
I guess you could say having fun making a game and having fun playing a game are two very different things. That said, you were one of 12 entries when over 100 said they were definitely still in the contest and planning to submit an entry. So reviews notwithstanding, you're still a winner in my eyes.
Yeah, if we had it to do over again I'd put together a team with a writer, sound person, and artist added on. Probably a designer as well. I'm almost tempted to do that with an idea I've had for a game for about 10 years now but, can't find the right medium to release it on. I'm going back to Unity for a bit first now so maybe later.

Live and learn.
 
Jul 21, 2009
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Deutschland
#76
I am reviewing Delinquent's Journey by originalself.
Actually, I think that it is alright for the 30 minutes it took me to finish that game. It's quite obvious that much more was planned by just looking at the world map, but given the deadline it's still a good feat that you managed to finish it.
Like others already said, there are too much random encounters and some of the maps where you just fight on screen enemies have simply too much of them. Also, the battle is highly unbalanced, with only the rat man posing a bit of a threat. It also would've been nice to give some spells from the start instead from level 5 upwards (in a game that you can easily beat at level 7).
The graphics are nice and for, I assume, someone who hasn't done much with RPG Maker games, the maps are actually pretty well done. The story is standard fare, but sometimes there are some jokes that dont make me laugh but at least smirk. I peronsally enjoyed the soundtrack and the sounds are standard stuff, but nicely implemented.
It's a good start, at least. I can already see some potential in this game.

Fun Factor: 2/5
Story: 2/5
Graphics: 3/5
Audio: 3/5
Tone: 2.5/5
Overall: 2.5/5
 
Sep 21, 2013
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France
#77
The Very Best by PsionBolt

This game is kinda different than your regular RPG, you basically have multiple characters each one having an elemental type and you watch them fight each over while hoping you selected (or have) the good elemental type to win and thus recruit more character making winning against people you could't win beforehand possible. Think Pokemon but without selecing abilities. Or a more complex game of rock paper scissors.

Art wise it was ok, nothing struck me as particulary awesome nor bad, your average entry.
Musics were nice, i enjoyed listening to them, again nothing particulary amazing.
Story wasn't particulary interesting but i couldn't see much, especially if it had multiple endings because:

I didn't finish this game, infact i even hesitated to give it a score at one point

Why is that? Let me tell you my story with this game.
First time i played it was actually the first day i starting reviewing games, i selected the little girl (call the cops!) and was actually amazed at how her and the boy were as weak as you could imagine. So i ended up getting my ass kicked but i was ok with this, i didn't mind, then i found a character that instead of fighting would ask me questions before joining me and i found that awesome.
Then, it only went downhill, i fought a old man who came yelling at me when i was trying to go downstair and won, then i tried to go downstairs despise him blocking my way and... i actually went through him and the game crashed. Since i didn't saved, i decided i would give it a shot another time.
Today i tried this again, i selected another character and because i have good taste, i picked up a blue haired girl. And... nothing, black screen.
Ok no problem, this time i picked up a girl with green hair which started near the two kids of my very first try and it worked. So i talked to the boy running around and he asked me to play tag, and as i won he joined my team along with the loli. I then found the house of the blue haired girl i couldn't pick and fought her, i won, and... after kicking me out of her house i became invisible! Needless to say i made a save beforehand and decided to check up that old guy again, then i noticed that after beating him he wouldn't join my team but a random girl i never met had, then i tried to go back inside him and again freeze, but that didn't shocked me.
So i stopped playing again and i, just before typing all this, tried another character, a man this time, i was in a room with a pirate that i couldn't beat and an old man i defeated, then still couldn't win against the pirate. What's the issue then? I couldn't leave the room, when i tried to do so a guy told me it was only for VIP members (note that i was basically in the room behind his desk so it didn't made any sense). How did that character even got into that room suddenly became the most intriguing part of the story. Needless to say i closed the game afterward.

Maybe i'm cursed but i just found bugs non stop, and i sadly feel i have to punish this game in the fun and overall category, which is sad because the game was in my opinion really interesting and could've been a really good entry.

Fun Factor: 1.5/5 (added 0.5 because i actually enjoy finding bugs/glitch/exploits)
Story: 2.5/5
Graphics: 3/5
Audio: 3/5
Tone: 3/5
Overall: 2/5 (i honestly felt it could've been 3.5/3.75)

Next i'll try My Miserable Island Vacation, then i'll finish with the Edge of Darkness.
 
Jun 23, 2009
7,603
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#78
Maybe i'm cursed but i just found bugs non stop, and i sadly feel i have to punish this game in the fun and overall category, which is sad because the game was in my opinion really interesting and could've been a really good entry.
He actually did fix the bugs in a new version (look earlier up in the thread) but it was unclear whether he could submit the patched version since he patched it after the contest closed.
 

sld

Member
Oct 28, 2006
70
0
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Sweden
#79
Woah, thanks for the heads-up! So there are game-breaking bugs... That's certainly no good to hear. My apologies. They're all really simple fixes, too. That really sucks.



I'd like to know this too, for obvious reasons! I kind of feel like the answer should be "no", since there was a time limit and all, but... Gah, I sure do hope the answer is yes.
I absolutely think people should be able to patch their games if there's some major flaw/bug that prevents finishing the game. But at the same time I also feel that we had a deadline for a reason, and there should be some sort of consequence for post-deadline patching. Perhaps a .5 or 1 point deduction to the overall score would be a fair compromise?
 
Oct 24, 2012
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#80
The Very Best by PsionBolt

I didn't finish this game, infact i even hesitated to give it a score at one point
Yeah... I expect I'll be hearing things like this every time. I don't have any excuse. I missed far too many game-breaking bugs.
Sorry for wasting your time, and thank you for giving it so many chances and taking the time to write it all up!

I absolutely think people should be able to patch their games if there's some major flaw/bug that prevents finishing the game. But at the same time I also feel that we had a deadline for a reason, and there should be some sort of consequence for post-deadline patching. Perhaps a .5 or 1 point deduction to the overall score would be a fair compromise?
Honestly, despite how much it would help me personally, I have to say that a deadline is a deadline. I've thought about it a fair bit, and came to that conclusion. I'm going to try to learn from this for next time.
 

sld

Member
Oct 28, 2006
70
0
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Sweden
#81
Review – The Last Willie by blacksunshine & knives24

This one stood out to me because it used a more "western" art style compared to the more cartoony/anime looks of most of the other games in the competition. But I have to admit that despite thinking it looked promising I just couldn't enjoy this game. Every NPC you meet has serious attitude problems, even the main character is just a total asshole! I realize this was done on purpose to comic effect, but it didn't work and instead just made me not caring at all about the story or the characters. To pull this off you need well-written and sharp dialogue and this game had nothing of the sort. Instead, the writer's resorted to juvenile humour where you're expected to laugh just because someone says "bitch" or "fuck you".

The battles were either too easy or too hard, which made for a frustrating battling experience. For some reason it was hard to tell how good the equipment from the store were before you had already bought it. And the weapons/armour is wildly unbalanced. You go from doing barely any damage to one-hit killing enemies just by getting a better weapon. I also didn't like that every time you die you're instantly revived again. That made the recovery items and fear of losing pointless. Sometimes I even died on purpose since it was faster that way than to go all the way back to town by foot.

The music was OK and I think it fit the mood pretty well. I liked the art style, but there were some problems with the mapping. Some areas were confusing since it was hard to tell where you could walk or not. But seeing all enemies on-screen was neat and the amount of enemies on the map felt well-thought out.

In the end, I think The Last Willie failed to capture my interest mainly because of the story/dialogue. It tried to be funny but just didn't succeed and instead the unsympathetic characters just became tiresome. Better writing and overall tone would have gone a long way with this one.

Fun Factor: 1/5
Story: 1.5/5
Graphics: 2.5/5
Audio: 2/5
Tone: 1/5
Overall: 1.5/5
 

sld

Member
Oct 28, 2006
70
0
0
Sweden
#82
Honestly, despite how much it would help me personally, I have to say that a deadline is a deadline. I've thought about it a fair bit, and came to that conclusion. I'm going to try to learn from this for next time.
Sounds reasonable. I just think you deserve a chance to patch it since, well, this competition is more for fun and learning rather than winning anyway.
 

sld

Member
Oct 28, 2006
70
0
0
Sweden
#83
Review – Delinquent's Journey by originalself

I loved the great-looking intro sequence on the ship! Answering those questions and getting a feel for who the main character is set the tone perfectly and made me get into the adventure immediately. The story/dialogues was nothing out of the ordinary but it still managed to hold my interest regardless.

The battle system were too basic (I basically attacked my way through the whole game) and I would've liked to learn more skills at earlier levels. Oh yeah, the number of random encounters were CRAZY and the enemies could've been a bit harder.

I liked the atmosphere of the school, but I also felt that perhaps some of the maps could be more dense... You know, filled with more stuff to interact with. Some of them are just too big and looks too barren. I also encountered a lot of spelling mistakes and weird glitches like walking through roofs/walls/graves/statues. You really should have asked someone to proofread and playtest, that would have helped a lot. The music was very nice, especially that awesome tune that played outside the school in the town area.

Despite some complaints I had a pretty fun time with this one. It was just too bad it ended so abruptly! I hope you'll continue working on this game because it has potential.

Fun Factor: 2.5/5 (could've been higher if less random encounters)
Story: 2.5/5
Graphics: 3/5
Audio: 4/5
Tone: 4/5
Overall: 3/5
 
Jun 23, 2009
7,603
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#84
Honestly, despite how much it would help me personally, I have to say that a deadline is a deadline. I've thought about it a fair bit, and came to that conclusion. I'm going to try to learn from this for next time.
Do you see yourself making TVB2 (and if so, who is the canon winner of TVB?) Or do you have a whole new idea in the works? :)
 
Oct 24, 2012
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#85
Do you see yourself making TVB2 (and if so, who is the canon winner of TVB?) Or do you have a whole new idea in the works? :)
Well, first of all, I do intend to properly finish this one eventually! Even if only for my own personal satisfaction, I want to bring the game to the state that I initially envisioned. It's a long-term goal, though.

I don't think I'll ever make a direct sequel, but I'll probably continue to explore the setting in future games. A few of the characters in TVB also appear in my past and/or ongoing projects (Clara, Bob, and Mark in one, Delanor and Willard in another). I'm going for a unified world between games, even when they aren't direct sequels. Several of the characters in TVB have some implied connections to one another that would be interesting to explore, so I expect I'll revisit a few of them soon.

As for the canon winner... Nothing is set in stone yet, but I'm leaning towards
April
.
 
#87
Forewords
Aquamarine made two posts compiling the list of entrants. That's 150 persons. In the end only 12 games were posted as part of this contest. To make something playable in the time of the contest is a remarkable feat alone, especially for those who haven't used RPG Maker before. I think a big round of applause is in order for all those who submitted something.

The way I will critique these games is as if they were ongoing projects and I will try to describe things I think need to be fixed or ideas on how to further develop the game. I realize many are probably not going to continue working on these games after the contest but I hope that my criticism can at least be a little useful for further projects even if you don't intend to expand on this game in particular.

These are intended to be critiques, not reviews, and I haven't rated the games.

About Me (and my biases)
In order to fully appreciate criticism, I think it's important to know at least a little something of where the critic is coming from.

I've been developing games as a hobby since I was roughly nine years old. In the beginning I tended to be inspired by Pokémon and Zelda, but as I grew up I grew more and more tired of games that emphasize challenge and gameplay and my own games reflect this. I tend to prefer games that emphasize an experience and atmosphere in front of challenges, my favorite games being The Path, Botanicula and Ico. I don't like RPGs or really anything with a battle system, so my criticisms of the more traditional games may be taken with a pinch of salt as I'm not the target audience.

I find it easier to focus on flaws and issues and not strengths, so bear that in mind. I know this is a weakness and highlighting strengths is as important as highlighting issues, but I ask you to have patience with me (how ironic to ask you to overlook this flaw). If there's anything you don't understand, just ask. I can sometimes use weird expressions as English is not my native mother's language-tongue.

Recurrence by Tommy Gun
The concept is quite interesting: a game in which information is the primary resource. The gameplay is quite standard adventure gameplay but with the addition of resetting things through the telewatch. An interesting comparison is that of Majora's Mask, in which a similar time mechanic is used to set up interesting characters, relations and puzzles through the use of the time mechanics. This game mostly just focused on the resetting part and to my experience not so much on the time. I only noticed one character where the time of day mattered (Alex). I also feel like the game used the time mechanics to simply set up puzzles rather than explore characters and relations. I think this is an interesting area to expand the game on, adding more characters (who aren't necesarrily part of the gameplay), and more importantly adding more information and characterisation that isn't part of the puzzles, flavor dialogue and characters to add to the world of the game. As of now, it feels very "gamey" in the traditional adventure game sense, where essentially all dialogue and information you get to know of a character is part of the game system, the most interesting exception being following Alex home to see where she lived. More of that. (No, I'm not a stalker!)

What is quite obvious from the very start of the game is the lack of sound. Most of the game is spent in complete silence. There doesn't have to be music everywhere, but there has to be something. In real life, silence is not silent, silence is a sound. Watch any movie and you will notice that whenever there is a "silent" scene, it is not actually silent at all. When you want silence in a film, you don't remove sound, you add it. This game needs atmospheric sounds. The game is supposed to take place in a city but it feels more like a ghost town. Cars in the distance, doves chirping ever so often from the rooftops, footsteps would all go a very long way to making it feel more like a city, without you actually having to see any of those things. (And if it is supposed to be a ghost town (like the Boundary part), then wind.) I know RPG Maker's sound system sucks, especially for ambient sounds, but even within that system, more could be done. If you don't have the equipment to record sound yourself, a great resource for sound is FreeSound. All the sounds in my game that I didn't record myself come from FreeSound (which I know isn't too flattering since the sound in my game isn't too great).

For the lab, it needs the humming of machines (until the fuse blows). As of now, not only is it quiet, but there isn't a big difference between when everything works and when the fuse has blown. Other than a glowing light and the spark when it blows, there seems to be no difference. Ambient sound isn't just a matter of setting the mood or making things feel more realistic or interesting, it is also a great story teller and can clarify things to the player (like "teleporter is on" vs. "teleporter is off").

The map design indoors is generally relatively good. Unfortunately I don't feel the same about the outdoors. The system of disappearing roofs is a good idea and means you can avoid the usual pitfall of a huge discrepancy in the sizes of houses when you're indoors and outdoors which usually feels quite unnatural. However, it also means you have to think a lot more carefully about room conservation and be very conservative with how you use the space you have. When it comes down to it, I don't feel like any of the outdoors environments are interesting. There's a huge deal of empty space, the worst case being the top-right part of town.

This open space also highlights the repetition in the tileset. Not even a perfect city is devoid of irregularities. There's small cracks in the pavement, grass and weed peeking through ever so often. I think you might want to think about a way to restructure the locations of the buildings and the distances between them. As of now, a lot of the game is walking in silence through the same rather uninteresting-looking outdoor environments in order to get back to where you were and try a different dialogue option. When the game is built around retracing the same areas, it is important to make sure the player doesn't tire of these areas too quickly.

I don't know how much of these graphics are RTP but it seems you've pulled graphics from multiple places that don't necessarily match in style. If we have a look at the teleporter pad in the beginning of the game, it feels out of place (and not because it's a freaking teleporter pad). Whereas a lot of assets in the game use a lot of colors for textures with no palette, there are only a few objects whose general shapes are so blurry. Another instance is the graffity to the Boundary which I assume you've drawn yourself. It has far more anti-aliasing than anything else in the game (with the possible exception of the teleporter). It doesn't look like graffiti, think of how one would actually spray that graffiti. Such large graffiti could not possibly be done in one stroke, it requires multiple strokes to get that thickness, yet your text uses single strokes. I drew a quick example next to your graffiti to illustrate using more strokes and a very limited palette (only two colors).

I would also advice putting the "Stay On Your Side" text where I put my graffiti. As it is now, it doesn't make much sense. It is put on an area that a character in the game won't actually see, either you're on the ground and can't see it or the railing is blocking the view. For a lot of graffiti, being in an odd place is fine, but for a warning, it needs to be where people can see it. At first I actually thought that roof was a wall, since that was the only way one could see the graffiti, but the bottles on it messes with that perception.

I like Yanfly's System Options but I'm not sure why you'd want to turn of Auto Dash since there is no negative consequences to running all the time. It'd make sense in a stealth game or even something like Pokémon where you're not allowed to run indoors but I don't feel this game needs a walk/run button.

I found a bug where if you telephone your uncle right after returning to the teleporter he will stay where he is and type on a non-existent keyboard.


Recommendations: Play Majora's Mask if you haven't and look up on sound design.

RivalQuest by zashga
A game which twists the RPG genre by making it about someone other than the hero. The obvious comparison in that regard is Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale and also Moon:Remix RPG Adventure which makes fun of RPG tropes.

I very much enjoyed the name selection process and it caught me off-guard. Props to that.

I'm not sure what the purpose of the random encounters is. They're all quite easy and there isn't much strategy to talk of at this early stage. As a game which focuses on comedy and humorous takes on RPG tropes, I don't think the battles add much to the table and think it would be stronger with only scripted battles. I feels like the decision behind them was "it makes fun of RPG tropes so it needs RPG battles" but unless you can find a way to mock the battles or in some other way make them more comedic or add a twist, I don't really think they add anything. In this regard, it is similar to Cthulu Saves the World which is another comedic RPG game. I personally didn't play more than half an hour of Cthulu Saves the World as it felt like a minute of comedy followed by twenty minutes of standard, boring battles. Now, as this is quite short, it wasn't that bad but I can see the random encounters getting grating quite fast in an expanded version.

Sound design wise, there's always something going on so it's never boring. The music fits the tone of the game pretty well. However, I find that the sound effects in the standard RTP are mostly rather bad and kinda... odd sounding. They sound very fake and not really what they're supposed to sound like (in the instances where they are supposed to sound like something). I think one should consider getting sound effects elsewhere or at least compliment the RTP with other sound effects. FreeSound is a great resource but the sounds are seldomly made as game-ready sound effects so you'll need to know some basic audio editing. Audacity is a great free, open source tool for basic audio editing.

The map design starts off fine with some relatively interesting maps (although these too could be shrunk somewhat) but the aptly titled Boring Cave is... well, quite boring. It is unnecessarily large considering there isn't much that fills it. Here's a comparison between your cave and a masterfully done cave in Chrono Trigger.

This may seem like an unfair comparison since the tileset in Chrono Trigger is so much more beautiful than the default RTP (Chrono Trigger is quite a visually stunning game) but the difference isn't just about tilesets. It's just as much about the design of the cave. You can see that Chrono Trigger has a significantly less wide cave and instead focuses on designing an interesting cave with twists and turns that feels more like a cave. Now, the main part of your cave is man-made, so it certainly makes sense for it to be straight, but there is no reason for it to be so wide. Gameplay-wise there is no point where your cave needs to be more than two tiles wide. This is more what a man-made tunnel looks like (before massive industrial drills):

I would instead make the entire cave smaller and in order to separate the man-made tunnel from the natural caves, I'd not make it wide, but rather have wooden support structures along the walls, similar to the wooden support structures that indicate the cave opening on the map (and thus it would make a lot of sense to have them in the cave).

The save dialog at the end of the game is rather annoying as you may replace your save file with a save file that simply returns you to the title screen as soon as you load it.

Recommendations: Play Moon:Remix RPG Adventure (unfortunately, this is not available in English but a fan-translation is on the way and supposedly almost done) and Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale.

The Last Willie by Bl4ckSunsh1n3 & kn1ves24
This is a much more traditional turn-based RPG with enemies showing on the map. There isn't a strong focus on story but rather on combat, so it's not something I'm predisposed to enjoy.

Reccurence opened with a traditional cutscene and Rival Quest had scrolling text tell us the backstory. I felt that both of those worked fine. The Last Willie instead does something in the middle of both, with both text as well as dialog that's as if from a cutscene (but without the actual cutscene). I don't think this mix quite works. The narration describes the place simply with "people are drinking" which doesn't do anything to establish the location. And we don't get to actually see the location either. Instead we are transported into a different realm (but we don't know that it's a different realm because we haven't seen the last one so we can't compare) and are tasked to try to get back (but since we never got to see the first location, we don't really feel the motivation to get back there). Due to this lack of motivation, the game can seem aimless (though that's not the only reason).

The dialogue is rather weak and unfortunately not particularly funny. Funny dialogue can be very tricky to write. This is even harder to do in video games. I'd say there are pretty few comedy games out there, the vast majority (to my experience) being old point-and-click adventures. Sit down and watch your favorite comedy movies or stand-up comedians and focus on the dialogue. Try to understand how it is structured, how it sets up expectations and then breaks those expectations in unexpected ways. See what eg. the Sam and Max games do. What's funny is of course very subjective but I have personally found the good comedy always comes from strong and consistent characters and the way that their personalities clash in the manner they deal with things. Sam and Max, for example, have very strong and unique personalities and the humour in the games arises from those personalities. I don't feel like the main character in your game has a very strong personality. It is mentioned that he is a drunkard but all that really comes out of it is that he mentions how he wants some alcohol at, I think, two instances. Write up a character biography for all your characters. How old is he? What does he work with? What has he studied? What are his hobbies? Even if the vast majority of that information will never be in the game, it will help you greatly in writing different characters and finding ways in which you can create conflict between characters or present their unique perspective on something.

For example, I found the ending joke of "I'm the only man alive" didn't work because the expectations weren't properly set before "subverting" them with a "fuck yeah". How about something like:
"They're... really all dead."
"Every last one of them."
"Dear God. I'm the only man left alive..."
"The only man alive... nothing but me and a world of women."
"We'll have to rebuild the world! Birth a new generation!"
"And I'd be the only man to do it! With all these women..."
"..."
"I guess that'd be paradise if I was straight."

Ok, yeah it needs refinement... I'm not a comedy writer, ok?

The largest problem I see with this game is the lack of clarity. I still don't understand how the battle system works. Sometimes I can't use Resoration for seemingly no reason? And I didn't realize you could even run from battles until I accidentally hit X. Is there ever any point to using Guard? Ever?

This also extends to the visual clarity, primarily in the forest. Where can I walk and where can't I walk and how am I supposed to know? Sometimes you can walk over these but most often you can't:


Where is the map transition?

In the leftern image you can also see that there is no transition between certain tiles. This feels very unnatural and it looks obviously tile-based.

Regarding the forest, it doesn't feel like a forest. It feels much more like a swamp. For a forest, there's a noticable lack of trees. Here's part of Viridian Forest from the Pokémon games:

Notice not only the huge amount of trees but how they are put so densely together by having many trees behind other trees for which you see only the tree tops and not the stems.

In general, try making the maps smaller whilst keeping them interesting. All of the maps in the game could be made significantly smaller whilst still retaining all the relevant information. The maps in the forest frequently don't make sense spatially. You can see another path about 7 tiles to the right of the one you're going down but next map is maybe 40 tiles wide and yet you can't see the path. The two maps just don't seem to connect.

Why only use about half of the textbox? It looks rather weird.


You've altered the size of the window but the battle backgrounds remain the same size, leaving black borders around them that look off.


In the second last room, you can walk on the wall.


Why have a Formation option in the menu when you never form a party with anyone?

Recommendations: Play Chrono Trigger and look at the map design. How do they manage to make the transitions between areas clear? And how do they make interesting and complex maps in small areas?
 
#88
Delinquent's Journey by originalself
This is a very traditional turn-based RPG. There is a story but it mostly feels like an excuse to get to the quests and combat.

The reason it feels like the story is just an excuse is because things are introduced just as you are tasked with them rather than eg. rumor and gossip building up the world. This makes it feel very gamey rather than an actual developed world. The rat king is never mentioned until we are tasked to defeat him. The slime cave doesn't exist until we've talked about it, at which point it appears out of nowhere. We never heard anything about the farmer's daugher until she joins us (and even at the end of the game we still barely know anything of or her backstory, or even the backstory of the main character other than the short blurb in the beginning of the game). Maybe that's just the way I played but I did try to explore the area a bit before going where I thought I was supposed to be going but no one seemed to have anything particularly interesting to tell me. Instead of all the pupils saying "Hello." expand with more dialogue and character. Have them tell you interesting things and hint at what's to come. Myths and legends to build the world. Some of them can relate to later quests but there can also be myths and legends that never really come into the gameplay, or even myths that are untrue (as myths tend to be).

There were also multiple spelling errors. The nun in the graveyard of the school grounds says 'quite' when she means 'quiet'. A person in the dorm doesn't capitalize the beginning of their sentence (made worse by the fact the beginning of their sentence is an 'I'). The librarian says 'usualy'; correct spelling is 'usually'. Viridis' name isn't capitalized. Puto says 'your' but means 'you're'. 'Someone' is one word and 'demension' is spelled 'dimension'. Spelling errors can sometimes be hard to spot when you are familiar with a text as the mind glances over them. A common trick in writing circles is to change the font of your text to unfamiliarize yourself with it. This isn't always trivial in a game as the font plays into stuff like the cutoff for text and how much fits in one textbox. I personally wrote all my dialog on pen and paper nowhere near RPG Maker to make sure it was well thought-through. (Even then my dialogue is hardly amazing.) Have someone else read through your text to spot spelling and grammar errors ahead of release.

The combat seems to focus on quantity over quality with plenty of battles but none that are difficult or strategically interesting. My strategy throughout the game was to mash the Z button until the fight was over. If I had low health, cast healing magic. Repeat. There was no point in the game where this formula didn't work. The player characters are heavily overpowered. The boss battles aren't very interesting and seem to mostly just be guys with a lot of HP. Have a look at the boss battles in Chrono Trigger and see what it does to make the boss battles not just a monster with high HP (although they certainly have high HP as well). A very simple and common way to do a slime boss would be to have the slime split into smaller slimes when killed. It's very simple technique that doesn't alter strategy much but still makes the boss slightly more interesting and unpredictable.

I chose to fight like a Monk in the beginning but I seemed to only learn combat-related moves. Is there any difference to what you pick?

The Paralyze attack says it will paralyze all enemies but seemingly only targets one.

It's a bit annoying that you can't see what items are for sale until you've selected buy when there's plenty of available screen space left. The item screen already does this.

This is mostly just an empty screen. I never actually used any shop, though, as my characters were so overpowered regardless.

Plenty of maps could be made smaller (yes, I'm a reductionist designer) and more interesting whilst keeping all relevant information intact. Here's a screen from the town in your game next to a screen of a town in Breath of Fire II:

Breath of Fire II is more compact with greater variety. Despite being a town it has height-differences and a great variety in houses. It also has trees which your town could use greatly (also bushes, flowers, patches of taller grass). Write down all the important locations of your town and their relation to each other, then try to place them as tightly together as possible, then add some flavor to the small areas between them. Try to make the map as small as it can be. You'll find that most of the time, reducing the size of it makes it more interesting, not less. Make it more compact! This is how a church looks:

Your church is absolutely huge! And the spacing between the benches is massive!

The map transitions sometimes put you a tile left or right of where you'd expect to end up. Placing map transitions is a boring job, but nevertheless an important one and making sure the transitions make sense is important since it shows the way the world fits together. The worst offender is the castle in the beginning of the game.

I also feel the outer wall is unnecessary, the inner wall is plenty enough. I mean, it has three walls!

NPCs moving around randomly can sometimes block your path. It would be good to have tiles you can walk on but NPCs can't, so that there's always a clear way.

I explored the area and went directly to Puto instead of into the house and was somewhat confused as they talked about a castle no one had said anything about previously. I assume I didn't miss any gameplay though because I never grinded and was still massively overpowered. Have a look at how Breath of Fire II handles you going to areas you're not supposed to be at yet. It usually doesn't just pretend they're not there like the mountain house or the cities to the left on the world map (you could never actually get there, could you?).

Recommendations: Play Breath of Fire II and Chrono Trigger.

Post-Mortem
Képzeletbeli Gyilkos is heavily inspired by the 1990 film Szürkület by Georgi Féher, which is an adaptation of the novel The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel by Friedrich Dürrenmatt after his movie script to Es geschah am hellichten Tag which he was unsatisfied with. Es geschah am hellichten Tag is a detective story about a detective who leaves the police force and tries to catch a child murderer by using a little girl as bait, and is ultimately successful in doing so. Dürrenmatt thought this ending was unrealistic and rewrote it in the novel, rather than catching the criminal, the trap is set but the criminal never arrives. The detective is driven insane by this and only years later does he learn that he was correct all along but the perpetrator died in a random car accident on the way to the meeting point. Szürkület takes some liberties with its adaptation, but ultimately the theme is the same, although in the end the perpetrator doesn't die in the car crash but disappears without a trace. As per Hungarian film making tradition, and with Béla Tarr as consultant, Szürkület is a relatively slow movie with frequent use of long takes to build mood. There is only one repeating music track that fades in and out of the film.

In Képzeletbeli Gyilkos (Hungarian for 'Imaginary Killer'), there is no murder. A young girl drowns as she is setting up nets in the middle of the dark lake at midnight. This makes deep-seated distrust and conflict stir anew as no one trust anyone. Most distrusted is of course János, previously convicted rapist. Rumours spread quickly: everyone knows he was seen, yet no one knows by whom. But he is not the lone suspect, everyone suspects everyone. The detective is thrust into this, and is, too, distrusted by the villagers. This is the main theme: distrust, and I want to make the player distrust everyone.

End results:
János: 11%
Vargas: 11%
Miklos: 0%
József: 22%
"The Tall Man": 44%
Remaining 11% is my vote for neither of the above.

Mechanically, it turned out just like I envisioned it but the same can't be said for the writing, graphics and audio. The writing is entirely on me, I'm not used to writing dialogue and I typically avoid dialogue altogether, yet this is a game that focuses entirely on the dialogue. It needed more revisions and whereas I did write (very) short character descriptions for all characters, these should have been expanded much, much more to give a clearer representation of the characters. Character bios are incredibly helpful, and I knew this perfectly well, so why didn't I use them?

Graphically, the fault lies both with me and with RPG Maker. I'm not a good artist and I'm an even worse animator. Even with the very basic animation the player character has, it still took me way too long and thus no other characters are animated at all, just static. That's terribly uninteresting. Ideally, I'd like the game to be done in a single take, but due to my bad animating skills and limitations in RPG Maker, I had to use cuts. The fire graphics are absolutely hideous, and the fog isn't much better.

I set out from the very beginning to do something RPG Maker doesn't really do. I knew it would be challenging, but I didn't fully understand just how limited RPG Maker is. RPG Maker does not have hardware acceleration. At all. It's entirely software-rendered. ... Let that sink in for a while. That's inexcusable for any modern engine. Even at three large layers and upped resolution, the FPS dropped to about 40, and I have a moderately good CPU (of course having a good graphics card doesn't help when it isn't used). So I couldn't add more layers which ultimately made the game quite empty. Not that I wouldn't have been able to add more layers anyhow, considering how slow resource creation was. One of the main reasons for the painfully slow resource creation process was the lack of shaders. To make layers visually recognisable and moderately good-looking, I wanted to use a bloom-ish shader that I developed very easily in Game Maker together with radial blur. But of course shaders are out of the question in RPG Maker, meaning I had to approximate the look with pre-renders, which took a lot of time, and of course you can't pre-render a post-processing shader so it also ended up not looking very good. The radial blur I didn't even try to do because that's impossible. For example, here's a mockup of the first dream sequence compared to the final result:
Of course the change in color isn't due to technical limitations. That's a rather poor late decisions to differentiate between main game and dream sequences since I could get much of a dream feeling in it. I'd like to have done small dust particles falling upwards, similar to in the second dream sequence, but there's no way RPG Maker would have handled that.

The audio engine, too, is woefully limited. I implemented a 3D positional sound system but that didn't have many good options for ambient sound so in the end I simply covered every scene with the same short music tracks, which made it quite repetetive. It also means transitions between tracks is unsatisfactory.

Also, Miklos Fóti conversation has an embarrassing typo.

The Age of Dusk - Prologue by Noble Neckbeard
This is a traditional turn-based RPG with, I would say, about equal focus on story and combat.

The writing is pretty good with lots of world building. This has a lot of setup for things that don't currently affect the protagonists as well as a lot of flavor dialogue which makes it feel more like a genuine story than just an excuse to send the hero out on a RPG battle quest. However, I felt like... whatever it was that happened with Flint was sudden and I didn't understand what was supposed to be going on. Now, I assume you're going to get to learn more about it as the game progresses but I still feel like the dialogue in that encounter needs to be fine-tuned. You can intrigue me without confusing me.

When you talk to the shopkeeper next to the avalanche, the same dialogue is repeated every time you want to buy something which is quite annoying (especially since I want to make sure I have equipped everything properly and as well as possible before selling anything). In general, repeating dialogue gets tedious, but you also don't want to remove all the dialogue the second time you talk to someone since you don't want the player to get lost if they didn't pay close attention or if they've just booted up the game after a save and can't remember what they were doing. I think a compromise between the two is in order. In this case, he could have said something along the lines of: "An avalanche has blocked the road but I can still sell you some stuff if you need it." the second time you talk to him. It's a lot shorter than the multiple messages before but still retaining the most important information. It's also better as the current dialogue includes reactions from the player party which doesn't make much sense when you already know about it. I don't know if there are other instances that are like this as I generally didn't talk to people twice, but the same principle applies overall.

As with Delinquent's Journey, it's a bit annoying that you can't see what items are for sale until you've selected buy when there's plenty of available screen space left. The item screen in the menu already does this.

You've taken graphics resources from multiple places and they don't quite match. Some have very heavy, wide outlines whereas others (the standard RTP stuff) has much thinner outlines.


In the beginning of the game, there are multiple places where you can walk where you really shouldn't be able to:

The first screenshot in particular also illustrates how a lot of the indoor maps are: overly large and empty. Not only does this make for a huge discrepancy in how large buildings are on the outside and on the inside (moreso than is typical in RPGs) but it also makes the indoor maps a lot less interesting to look at. By scaling these maps down in size, much more interesting areas can be created. Take for example how the indoor maps in Lunar: Silver Star Story look (without any characters):

The rooms are a lot smaller (nevermind that the tileset is 16x16) and they're a lot more compact. They feel a lot more interesting and less empty despite there not really being more objects in them than in your rooms, they're just placed more tightly together since the rooms are smaller.

The outdoor maps are generally a lot better than the indoor maps with more going on (generally mountains), however they too could be a bit smaller. More importantly, what is supposed to be a forest doesn't quite feel like one. There are too few trees. Have a look at a forest in Chrono Trigger:

Look at the staggering amount of trees! And even more so, there are even more implied trees that you can only see the stems or the treetops of as they are overlayed on other trees. But the most important part is not the amount of trees but the density of them.

Recommendations: Play Minish Cap. Look at the inside maps. Count how many tiles wide and tall they are and the amount of empty floor tiles. Also look at pattern irregularities in the floor and how they make it look more interesting.
 
#89
Murder Mystery Mansion by Tempy
The 80s were an interesting time for PC games with a lot of experimentation and games made by single persons, leading up to the CD-ROMs of the 90s. In no other era could Chris Crawford's games have had such an impact. Unfortunately, the very catalyst of this experimentation was also its largest problem: the technical limitations. Sleuth, essentially a video game adaptation of Cluedo, is a mechanically interesting game which's presentation is hampered greatly by the technical limitations.

The most instantly obvious way in which the game is dated are the graphics. The rooms are merely outlines (which isn't necessarily bad, it could be interesting in a Dogville kind of way but here it leaves a lot to be desired). The rooms are also unnecessarily large considering there's nothing in them... There is no way to graphically differentiate between characters so you have to read the text for every room to see if you've already talked to that person. The second thing that hits you is the complete lack of sound. (Now, this may simply be because I haven't set up DosBox properly, I don't really have any idea how it works). With this lack of sound the game can be rather dull and I don't think it's controversial to say that Sleuth is not a very immersive game.

The third way in which the game is dated is the interface. It is done in the vain a typical text-adventure game of typing in commands. Personally, I've never been a fan of this kind of interface. Sleuth does it mostly fine since there are relatively few commands to remember but there were times where I for some reason forgot that is was 'question' and not 'ask' and other times at which the game failed to process my input.

The tutorial in Sleuth comes in the form of a wall of text of instructions accessible from the menu. The text is pretty well written in that it is concise but informative and written in a tone where instructions are often given more as hints and clues than in game-terminology. However, I think a remake could expand on the tutorial and instead make an actual tutorial which guides new players through the basic mechanics of the game in an interactive way. Compare reading the instruction booklet for a board game to playing a practice round of it whilst having someone help you. I consider the latter much better.

In conclusion, these are the things I would like to see a remake improve on Sleuth:
  • Improved graphics
  • Music and/or ambience and sound effects
  • Better interface
  • Interactive tutorial for new players

Murder Mystery Mansion greatly improves on the graphics. I believe these are all standard RTP assets (with the exception of the detective himself) but they work great together and look good. The rooms are tightly designed with very little wasted space. Compare it to the original and it looks a million times more interesting:

Notice how much smaller the room in the remake are. It seems like Sleuth thought that it needed to fill up the screen entirely and so stretched out the rooms in order to do so. You really don't need to do that.

As a consequence, running around and trying to find all the people felt like much less of a chore in the remake as the map design was a lot tighter. Not to mention that characters are instantly recognizable through their visuals so that you don't have to read through the text in order to see if you've already talked to them.

I do have some gripes with the visuals, though. The way the characters walk in place looks weird. It's a common thing in many old RPGs but here it looks weird as the NPCs are doing it but the player character isn't. This creates an inconsistency. (I'm personally not a fan of walking on the spot at all, even in old RPGs, but that's just my preference.) Pixel art in general looks beautiful when scaled up using simple nearest-neighbour but the title screen isn't pixel art and doesn't look very good when scaled up. The title screen in general seems unnecessary as there's two of them; they could easily have been combined into one screen. It would only add one more option: New Game, Custom Game, Credits and Shutdown. (And since Custom Game is the only addition, and it isn't even in the game yet, it seems even more unnecessary.)

Soundwise, there is little to no improvement. The game is dreadfully silent with the exceptions of some interface sounds and the fanfare in the end (which feels out of place, someone was murdered, a fanfare isn't really appropriate). This is a shame as sound could've greatly influenced the gameplay and feel of the game. You could hear the muffled footsteps of people walking around and interacting with things in other rooms, mumbled talking. As the murderer is growing more suspicious of you, the volume of the footsteps and talking could increase and create a more chaotic soundscape in order to stress the player and make them paranoid and tell them to hurry up.

This brings me to another issue: how do you know that the murderer is growing suspicious? The original had this problem as well. I think a better way to go about it would be to explain it through some flavor text, like: "You feel like someone is watching you.", "You think you see someone look at you from the doorway but on closer inspection can't find anyone." or "You can hear footsteps following you around." Couple this with the previously mentioned sound design and you have a way to inform the player to speed it up without having to break character and reveal information the player couldn't possibly know.

Characters walking around randomly can sometimes block the exit and you have to wait for them to move. A good solution would be to have tiles that the player can walk on but the NPCs can not.

Where the remake fails is in the text. The text in Sleuth is more well-written and descriptive, with more flavor and interesting character traits. It had to be, since it couldn't do much with its graphics but even though Murder Mystery Mansion has graphics, it's main focus should still be the text. The most interesting aspects are the different characters and their motivations and so the text explaining this is probably the most important part of the game. Sleuth had a variety of things for characters to do but everyone in Murder Mystery Mansion seem to just gaze at the floor. Sleuth also had a variety of flavor text when questioning characters whereas characters in the remake just state where they were.

Is there any point in asking the characters about the victim? The alibi seems like the only important thing. Asking about the victim is flavor text but I'm discouraged from doing that since the more you ask around and investigate the more suspicious the murderer gets. Now, I don't know if that's the way it actually works but it's how I imagine it to work so I get discouraged from talking about that. This is something I had a problem with in the original as well, but in reverse. I never understood the point of asking about an alibi as when questioning the witness normally, they always revealed their alibi. It seems like it could be removed and just have one talk-option.

Very seldomly can people confirm eachother's alibis. The worst instance is when two people contradict eachother but there is no one to back them up. Both Hannah and Roger claimed to have been in the Butler room (but not with eachother). So, who's the killer? It seems to me just like a matter of luck. 50% chance of getting it right. I never encountered that in Sleuth (though I didn't play a whole lot of it).

There is no interactive tutorial and the how-to-play text is shorter and less descriptive than the original text in Sleuth. I don't know how much of a problem it is as I'd already played Sleuth and thus already understood the basic concepts.

The potential murder items seem out of place. Original murder weapons seemed to fit the environments more than a hammer in the bathroom. (Though, on the other hand, they sometimes seemed quite implausible as murder weapons, like the shampoo bottle...)

The references felt out of place (thinking of hammer time particularly). This may just be because I played Sleuth before but I interpreted its tone as pretty serious (as I think is appropriate). I also don't see why I was yelling "BARREL!"...

The ending dialogue feels stilted, and it did in Sleuth too. The most egregious being "Hah! You got it wrong! I killed with the shampoo bottle, but in the bedroom, not the parlor!" from Sleuth. Why the heck would you say that? In front of all these people? It could perhaps use some dramatic buildup (this is, afterall, still the big reveal on whether you were correct or not in the end of a full playsession). See how a lot of traditional whodunits write their "gather everyone in the murder room and accuse someone"-scenes. It usually goes in the way of an accusation of murder, which the murderer will first deny, but then the detective reveals that he already knows how it was done and where, after which the murderer confesses. Or if you're wrong someone else (other than the murderer) could chime in and explain that you're wrong. "He was murdered in the game room? And what do you base that on?", "Well... err... hmm... I guess I could be wrong...". "Stop wasting our time, 'detective'."

Recommendations: Read some Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie (or really any whodunit novels) and then write your own short traditional whodunit story. That's the kind of writing and feeling you want to emulate.

Brodzilla by Copons
This replaces turn-based RPG battles with real-time battles on the map. In other regards, it's a pretty standard RPG. I can't say I'm too fond of battles in general but if I have to choose, I definitely take real-time battles on the map a la Zelda over turn-based RPGs.

The game starts with Brodzilla's footsteps in the background. Brodzilla's footsteps follow one repeating rhythm whereas the music follows a completely different one. This was a little bit annoying to me. I think I would prefer either random intervals between Brodzilla's footsteps so that there's no clear beat or for them to be in rhythm with the music (which could be quite menacing, like this quick mockup). But with two separate beats going at the same time, they clash and I found it hard to concentrate on what was happening. Also, if you pause during one of the footsteps, the sound does not fade out but you've got a constant quake going on in the menu. Rather than using events to fade out the footsteps, you should have edited the sound file itself. Doing a fadeout is quite simple in Audacity, a free and cross-platform audio editor. If you want to do anything involving sound, I sincerely recommend it. Fades are quite simple even if you want something more advanced than a linear one.

I found the map design in the beginning of the game rather good. There's something interesting going on almost everywhere with not too much empty space. There are some open areas but since it's an action RPG, the player can need some open space to manouver. Still, the indoor areas could be slightly smaller and the outdoor areas sometimes have open borders where it's not clear where you can go and where you can't.

This seems like a path. (There's lots of trees and the overlayed tree technique I've been talking about in the other critiques. This makes it actually feel like a foresty area. Props to that.)

However, I felt the maps got less interesting as the game progressed with lots of empty space and long, straight corridors. I feel like you know how to design interesting maps but got lazy and/or rushed toward the end.

(Also, my loot got stuck in the wall...)

As I've noted in other critiques, it's irritating with text that gets cut off before the end of the textbox and not being able to see what items are available for purchase in stores before going into the Buy tab when there's plenty available screen space to show it (especially in this case since there are only a few items available for purchase). RPG Maker doesn't play well with textboxes when changing the font as linebreaks are hardcoded but it should be possible to get around that using scripts. My game uses ATS: Formatting and doesn't have hardcoded line breaks (but my textboxes don't look great either).

I didn't find it very funny and thought the meta-humour worked better in Rival Quest. Now, comedy is very subjective, but I feel like Rival Quest did a better job of doing meta-humour without breaking character too much.

Shift is used for both running and skipping text. I found this annoying as I would constantly hold down Shift to run but then I inadvertantly skipped text I didn't want to skip since I wasn't fast enough to react to a textbox popping up. It would be better if you didn't automatically skip text if you held Shift when the first textbox pops up but rather you have to press and then hold Shift when the first textbox has appeared, so you don't skip text when you meant to run.

You've said not to go into the combat too much but it's a large part of the game and I don't think what I find works or doesn't work is as important as why I think so. (Never take criticism at face-value, think about why the person feels the way they do. Sometimes it's straight forward and the person really did spot an issue, other times what they're talking about is indicative of another problem entirely.)

The controls don't feel tight. F is pretty far away from Shift which I'll be holding at all times (an Always Run option would be appreciated). A better option would be S for Sword. Or perhaps even have it at Z, the same button for interactions since there isn't really any instance where the two would conflict.

More than that, the way the main character moves doesn't feel tight. The direction you're facing in is very important as it determines where you strike, but there is no way to turn around on the spot, instead you move in that direction, which can be quite annoying, especially when the enemy is also moving at the same time. Pokémon-like movement would have fixed this. (There are scripts for that.) Ultimately though, I feel like per-pixel, rather than tile-based, movement would have been ideal (there are scripts for that too).

I still don't really understand how the spin attack works or what the purpose of it is.

Enemies can attack you on top of things, even though there should be a massive height difference. Eg. they can attack you on the wall from the courtyard.

I don't feel like there's any opportunity to dodge attacks, meaning the combat consists of going up to an enemy and mashing F until it's dead, without any strategy or skill. I just run past enemies altogether though (except when it was in a narrow corridor) since there was no point in fighting them. It wasn't fun and the loot was worthless (except of course the "bosses"). You could potentially get a potion but you only need potions if you engage in fights. You can also get gold but that's worthless as all it can really buy you is more potions. Then there are floppy disks but there is no shortage of those so they're also worthless. And since there was no risk of enemies hitting you when you ran past them, it always seemed like the best option. Contrast this to Zelda. In Zelda, enemies also seldomly drop very valuable loot, maybe a rupee or two five, but getting past a room full of enemies by just running past is usually quite difficult and you end up getting hurt, meaning a casual player will typically benefit from fighting the enemies. If you want the player to engage the enemies, you should incentivise it.

Speaking of the floppy disks, I don't think they added anything. There were so many of them so that saving wasn't a scarce resource, so in that way I don't think they had much purpose, and even if they were a scarce resource, I don't quite see what that would add. In a survivial horror, making sure the player conserves saves could help create an oppressive and dangerous atmosphere, but this isn't a survival horror.

I don't think the grappling hook mechanic was ever really used in an interesting way. There weren't any puzzles with it, instead there are ready-for-grappling points that don't need any preparation or placement or switch-hitting or thinking of any kind. They might as well just have not been there at all and the player could have just walked right through and it would have been equally interesting. Now, the point of a grappling hook doesn't necessarily have to be puzzles, it could also be used in a story-telling way, to convey the atmosphere of ruins, where you have to bridge gaps created by crumbling buildings by means not intended by the architects. However, since the grappling points aren't natural in the environment but red, glowing orbs, it doesn't do this either. Thus, the holes in the ground don't feel like results of the process of time, but rather as holes put there intentionally by the architects of those buildings. The best example is the cloud house. Due to the red glowing orbs in the house, I knew from the moment I stepped in the door what was going to happen. It could also be used in the Metroidvania/Zelda way of recontextualizing environmental items found in previous sections by the acquisition of a new item/mechanic but since you have the grappling hook from the very beginning of the game, this isn't the case either.

Some spelling/grammar errors:
"It's to late for me", Aarongarathiel after destruction. "cook without headgears." These laws probably only require chefs to wear one headgear rather than multiple. Win the game switch: "Well it didn't happen anything" doesn't make any sense. You meant "it didn't do anything".

Recommendations: Play any of the 2D top-down Zeldas. I think this is the combat you'd want to emulate.

The Edge of Darkness by ZenaxPure
COMING SOON TO A FORUM NEAR YOU
 
#90
My Miserable Island Vacation by sld
This game differs greatly from the other games in that the overworld map is the primary point of interest rather than acting like a hub for more detailed maps.

I don't think the pixelated photos in the intro were a good idea. They're too pixelated for me to see what most of them are supposed to look like, especially since I only get to see about 1/4th of them since the rest is out of frame. I also think there's a pretty big and sudden tonal shift from the intro into the game.

The map design in the Mountain Village (or whatever it was called) is really good and interesting (although the house could be smaller). There's plenty of stuff going on with no pointless empty areas and it all looks visually appealing. I think the design in the fire temple thingy wasn't as good or interesting. The worst, though, is the sea in chapter 4. It's just a huge empty blob of nothing. I mean, I guess that's what the sea is, but it makes it kinda boring and hard to navigate. Which, again, I guess the sea is but it doesn't make for an all that interesting game.

Now, what made this experience kinda, well... miserable for me was the battles, of which there are a lot. Take this with a grain of salt as I don't like battles in games, but I think in RPGs, grinding is not something that should be expected but rather a way for less skilled players to compensate and still be able to get through the game. In this, it absolutely feels like grinding is mandatory. I felt there was about an hour's worth of content in the game, extended with several hours of grinding. It didn't feel like it was very well balanced and the difficulty curve felt lopsided. I didn't feel so much like I was trying to think strategically as much as I felt like I was trying to exploit game mechanics to make it through.

In the beginning, I ran away from any fights that wasn't just one rat (because everything else would kill me in one or two turns) and if I failed to run, I restarted the game and loaded the save (save after every fight!). If it was a rat, I put James on Guard because he can't attack anyway, he only misses or does null damage. Rest and save after every fight, then repeat for half an hour or so until I could buy some gear. After than, I could maybe take on two rats so still lots of reloading until I had bought all of the gear. And then I grinded some more. But that still wasn't enough for chapter two so there I found a place with mostly easy enemies and grinded for another hour or so until I could buy gear and level up a ton. Then I grinded even more, but I still lost against the boss. So finally I realized you could just exploit the system against single enemies (like bosses) by having the ring of regenerating FE and do Stun Attack every turn, which makes you invincible. Then I just equipped the book of no random encounters and suddenly the rest of the game went by in 10 minutes or so.

I liked the percentage bars for how close you were to the next level. That's much more helpful and easily understandable than just pure numbers. I would have liked to have that in the Status screen as well, though.

Like the other games, seeing which items are available for purchase before selecting the Buy tab would be nice since there's so much available unused screen space.

The long item names can screw up the equip menu. I assume this is since there are two columns of gear, but you won't really get that much gear that two columns is warranted. I don't think I ever got enough gear that a single column would ever require any scrolling.


There's a spelling error in the Cure spell description: "Cures status ailments such as Posion".

In the volcano, when you are "running for your life", you are actually walking quite slowly. The auto-dashing I'm doing constantly is a lot faster than that. This really doesn't convey urgency. (Thanks for the auto-dash option, though, that's really nice.)

Standing in front of the elder screws up his movement pattern and he can get stuck on things.

The game freezes if you approach the "hold on traveler it's not safe on the east road" from the east before having calmed the volcano. I assumed it'd be like "huh, you're already coming from the east, guess we can open up this passage now so you can go freely to the mountain village" but instead it froze my game. It's a good thing I saved after every battle.

Recommendation: Play Chrono Trigger and think about the balancing. How does it progress over time and do you actually have to grind (and if so, how much)? (Disclaimer: I haven't finished Chrono Trigger, maybe it gets ridiculously grinding-heavy toward the end. I wouldn't know. Oops.)

The Very Best by PsionBolt
Disclaimer: I played the patched version.

I found some of the character descriptions genuinely funny. Great job on those. Short and to the point but still descriptive and full of personality.

What I'd really like is some way to tell what skills did what. It doesn't seem possible to tell except in battle and even then not all of them are obvious. Most are obvious as they say "Def decreased" on use but some only did something after a couple of turns(?) and I missed the description. I still don't know what Seila's skill does. Not knowing this makes the battles much less strategic as you can't properly plan ahead or think of how to utilize different abilities in the same way.

The Status screen has only one tab: Status. This would be an excellent place to add another tab that told you what the skill did (rather than just its name). The HP bar seems unnecessary since every character has 100 HP and HP gets refilled after every battle.

With the huge character selection and pretty short length, it felt like the game wanted to be replayable, but apart from a few lines of dialogue in the beginning, it felt exactly the same, including strategy. I think different dialogue during the game depending on character would make it more interesting, and having the riddles be selected from a roster at random would make replays more rewarding. And of course different endings based on character. (Of course writing different dialogue and endings for 40 characters is pretty huge. Again, I'm writing this as if it was an ongoing project.)

The map design is pretty boring and most of the game is just and empty grass field with some houses randomly added. Here's a screenshot form the town in your game and a town map (Kaley) from Golden Sun.

The map is much smaller with the houses much closer together. Now, granted, it's easier for them to do this as their houses are smaller, but your map could still be much tighter and smaller. You could also add paths between the houses (so it feels more like a town / courtyard that's actually used rather than houses just randomly placed), trees (yours has a total of 1 tree), bushes (ok, so those are more like tall patches of grass but whatever). The Golden Sun map is also a lot more populated. You don't have to add more NPCs to make it feel more well-populated. Simply by making the town smaller and denser, it'll feel less empty. (Now, of course it still won't be on the level of Golden Sun cause they do also have a lot of NPCs.)

I took three screens of your game and counted the amount of walkable, accessible tiles versus the non-walkable tiles, to give somewhat of an idea on the amount of empty space and decoration.
Your game: 493 walkable tiles, 170 non-walkable tiles, 74.36% walkable tiles.
Golden Sun (Kaley): 437 walkable tiles, 587 non-walkable tiles, 42.68% walkable tiles.
Is that much space really necessary?

The same applies to the indoor areas.

That's a really big house with a lot of empty space in it.

For the 'incorrectly' puzzle, I assume you do
Code:
if answer == "incorrectly" or answer == "Incorrectly" or answer == "INCORRECTLY"
or worse. You don't usually want to do that when comparing strings. Rather, you compare a lower cased version of the string, like this:
Code:
if answer.downcase == "incorrectly"
This means shorter code and it'll ok the right word even if the user decides to capitalize it weird as hell.

Adam is bugged. He says he wants 100 G, then the textbox says he took 10 G. But in reality he took 0 G (I didn't have any).

Typo: "I'll praise your for making it through my secret twisting labyrinth".

Emma: "I will learn you" should be "I will teach you". To teach and to learn are different words in English, as opposed to eg. in Swedish ("lära"). To learn is to acquire knowledge whereas to teach is to share knowledge.

Also, Joanne kept walking away from me during the conversation.
I'm so alone. :(

Recommendation: Play Golden Sun and look at the map design.

GAFQuest by tensuke
You changed the resolution to work with HD displays but you didn't actually change the game to work with that aspect ratio. Large parts of enemies are frequently covered by the interface, the Game Over screen is improperly aligned since you didn't change the resolution of the Game Over picture, text messages often cover half the screen, the Status screen doesn't show all the stats (as is evident by the equipment screen), and you also can't see current exp or exp to next level (which are kinda important).

In the menu, the highlighted area doesn't completely cover the character's avatar and stats. And when you have multiple party members, it's all screwed up.


On the save screen, only the top of the character's head is shown. (Though this is a minor one.) Overall the game feels cramped (especially given the astronomically large maps).

The manhole changes sprite based on which direction you approach it from. I believe there are other events in the game as well that do this. To prevent this from happening, check the Direction Fix box in the Event properties.


You can set which direction the player should be facing after a map transition, instead of first doing the transition and then setting the direction the player character is facing in.


The music is varied while still feeling pretty consistent. However, I feel there's sometimes a lack of sound effects where one would be expected, eg. clinking around with the lock trying to open it, jumping over the gate.

The map design in this is really uninteresting with huge areas with nothing much in them. Here's a screengrab of your sewer-level (couldn't grab the whole level as I couldn't download your project files for some reason) and a sewer level using the same tileset (Celianna Futuristic) from Clandestinity of Elsie.

Yes, sewers are pretty uninteresting but for a game that's supposed to be comedic, there's absolutely no need to reflect that (and there not that uninteresting and certainly not that big). Here's an actual sewer (underground Paris):

If I were to map that, I'd make it 4 tiles wide.

The same applies to every area in the game. Make it smaller and more compact.

The fights aren't interesting as there aren't much in the way of abilities to utilize tactically. Instead, it's just mashing X through the whole fight (Z on keyboard, I play these on a gamepad). Maybe you'll have to use a healing item, but that's pretty much it in terms of tactics.

Recommendation: Another recommendation for looking at the map design in Golden Sun, Breath of Fire II, Chrono Trigger or pretty much any classic JRPG.
 
Jun 17, 2011
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#92
Chainsawkitten your reviews are truly amazing and I'm really enjoying reading them!!
Thank you for all your efforts!

I'm totally looking forward to reading your opinion about my game, and I guess I should suggest you to just disregard the combat system and the battle design in general as it kinda sucks and mostly where I failed to schedule enough time to successfully work on it.
So, yeah, if you want to destroy it feel free to do it, but it would be kinda like bullying a poor unfinished draft :D
 
Jun 23, 2009
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#93
Hard to believe there's just a little over two weeks to go in this contest. Where IS everybody? I've tried going to bat for it in the Steam thread but I guess nobody's biting.

Recommendations to Chainsawkitten: Play games with actual gameplay. Oh, snap!
Just kidding. Sort of. At least you submitted something.
 
May 19, 2014
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#95
This post of mine is just a selfish reminder for myself to play and review these games in the lead up to the deadline starting in September. 12 games in 12 days.

As I used to make a lot of RPGmaker2k games in the past I'm looking forward to the entries.
 
Feb 16, 2011
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#96
Forewords
Aquamarine made two posts compiling the list of entrants. That's 150 persons. In the end only 12 games were posted as part of this contest. To make something playable in the time of the contest is a remarkable feat alone, especially for those who haven't used RPG Maker before. I think a big round of applause is in order for all those who submitted something.

The way I will critique these games is as if they were ongoing projects and I will try to describe things I think need to be fixed or ideas on how to further develop the game. I realize many are probably not going to continue working on these games after the contest but I hope that my criticism can at least be a little useful for further projects even if you don't intend to expand on this game in particular.

These are intended to be critiques, not reviews, and I haven't rated the games.

About Me (and my biases)
In order to fully appreciate criticism, I think it's important to know at least a little something of where the critic is coming from.

I've been developing games as a hobby since I was roughly nine years old. In the beginning I tended to be inspired by Pokémon and Zelda, but as I grew up I grew more and more tired of games that emphasize challenge and gameplay and my own games reflect this. I tend to prefer games that emphasize an experience and atmosphere in front of challenges, my favorite games being The Path, Botanicula and Ico. I don't like RPGs or really anything with a battle system, so my criticisms of the more traditional games may be taken with a pinch of salt as I'm not the target audience.

I find it easier to focus on flaws and issues and not strengths, so bear that in mind. I know this is a weakness and highlighting strengths is as important as highlighting issues, but I ask you to have patience with me (how ironic to ask you to overlook this flaw). If there's anything you don't understand, just ask. I can sometimes use weird expressions as English is not my native mother's language-tongue.
Being a developer, I find this review style more down my alley as it is more like an internal software review than an external media one. Thanks for reviewing our game. There's a lot we could do better and we knew it on submission. I commented before that if we knew what did about RPGMaker at the time (with two weeks left in the competition) at the beginning our game could have easily been twice what it was. As we're both dudes with full time jobs and families, it took us a month to be comfortable enough with the tool to actually produce something. That was time lost in actually making a game, as far as design and testing goes.

In the end, we learned how to use RPGMaker so for that alone the contest was worth it. I would use it again if I were to make another classic RPG. It's not really my style though (I need the A in ARPG) so I'm not sure if I will use it again or not.
 
Jun 23, 2009
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#97
In the end, we learned how to use RPGMaker so for that alone the contest was worth it. I would use it again if I were to make another classic RPG. It's not really my style though (I need the A in ARPG) so I'm not sure if I will use it again or not.
I just started looking around at the possible options in RPG Maker, but if you could get prefixes and suffixes on items to change their properties, an RPG Maker ARPG would be pretty innovative.
 
#99
It's certainly possible and not very difficult with some basic scripting. Here's a script I wrote that plays different sounds when using an item based on which item you used (instead of only a standard one that applies to all items).

Code:
#==============================================================================
# Chainsawkitten's Individual Item Sounds v1.1
#------------------------------------------------------------------------------
# Plays individual sounds on item use, depening on the item used, rather than
# the same for every item.
#
# How to use:
#   Add into the Note-field for the item:
#     SE(path) - to play sound
#       example: SE(Audio/SE/Cow)
#     NoSound  - to not play any sound
#   Otherwise the default item sound is used.
#==============================================================================

module CskItemSounds
  def self.play_se_for_item(item)
    return if item.note.include?("NoSound")
  
    f = item.note.scan(/SE\((\S+)\)/)
    if f[0] != nil
      Audio.se_play(f[0][0])
    else
      Sound.play_use_item
    end
  end
end

#==============================================================================
# ** Scene_Item
#==============================================================================
class Scene_Item < Scene_ItemBase
  #--------------------------------------------------------------------------
  # * Play SE When Using Item
  #--------------------------------------------------------------------------
  def play_se_for_item
    CskItemSounds::play_se_for_item(item)
  end
end
Recommendations to Chainsawkitten: Play games with actual gameplay. Oh, snap!
Just kidding. Sort of. At least you submitted something.
I haven't found many gameplay-focused games that grabbed me (and I struggle to think of any that grabbed me because of the gameplay) but I'm certainly open to suggestions. (The exception I suppose would be sudokus, crosswords, nonograms and other procrastination-tools, though I'm not particularly interested in making these.)