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Feedback Turn-Based JRPG Skill-Based Battle Test

Discussion in 'Works In Progress - Archive' started by astracat111, May 4, 2019.

  1. astracat111


    Sep 21, 2016
    Hey there guys, I'm looking for some feedback on a video I've released recently for my project 'Astralojia'. It's a turn-based jrpg game, but it tries to create almost like a genre twist on the whole thing in that it uses skill bars.

    It's a simple concept, you spar kids around town using martial arts and magic. This is the project I've been working on for about 2 1/2 years now full time, and I think it's really come a long way since I was using planes and cubes.

    It's also designed to be a very difficult game, you get a very limited amount of money so that you can't just lvl up forever and then buy whatever you want. It's a very unforgiving experience in where you have to strategize in every episode. The idea is creating a completely and utterly grind-free jrpg, hopefully fully straying from the dungeon crawling that's plagued jrpgs for the longest time.

  2. AkiraWong89


    Oct 30, 2015
    Haha. Remind me of early 80's Chinese RPG which are super hard too.
    I remember every battle is just enough resources, made it very tough. Nostalgic.

    I just worry players nowadays won't enjoy this kind of difficulty much.
    Not like the old generation. Era changed, player psychology changed too.
    Nowadays if players encountered bottleneck, most of them will just give up.

    So I strongly suggest you to make your game has several difficulties.
    Easy mode for players who just wanna enjoy the story more. Easy play.
    Normal mode for common players and hard mode for challengers.
    And nightmare mode for otakus if you want.

    The skill bar system is actually not quite a twist for me.
    It's very common in most JRPG games such as Project Tokyo Dolls.
    This game also rely mostly the skill bar system to attack and defense.

    I'm not commenting on your art first since I know that it's unfinished.
    Look forward to your project.;)
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  3. astracat111


    Sep 21, 2016
    @AkiraWong89 I implemented several difficulties like you said, there's now Easy, Expert, Pro and a mode you unlock by getting through the episode called Ace, taken from Mario Tennis within my SDK. For this particular series I'm naming them White Belt, Blue Belt, Black Belt and then you can unlock the Third Degree Black Belt mode.

    That's interesting, I didn't know about that project. A couple things stand out to me in it. I think that today's players are overloaded with fast paced animation and effects in the JRPG world. Recently I played Kingdom Hearts 3 and there were a lot of times I couldn't even tell where I was in the wash out of animations that were going on on screen. To me, Final Fantasy 7, 8 and 9 are my favorites. The turn-based system allows you to not have a big wash of neuro-trash all bombarding you on screen. I'm also trying to avoid the Dragonball Z effect of power scaling and explosions everywhere. I'm trying to make a world in where even though there's magic, it's primarily martial arts with magic added onto it. Also I don't mean to offend anyone, but I'm not a fan of moe all anime girl series as the characters don't feel like real people in real life.

    I don't mind the comments on the graphics at all, but at the same time, I'll be shipping it as is with these graphics and maybe updating with a patch or two later just for the vfx. I think that comparing a single person or an indie game in general to AAA studios graphics might be a little unfair, I just don't have the unlimited amount of time to be able to compete on that level visually. The reason I've stuck with limited 2D animation is because 3D animation would have taken quite a lot more effort with all the rigging, with 2D you just draw in Photoshop and it's finished. Even though they have all the money and resources and all I have is just chalk on a chalk board in comparison, I still believe I can tell some really good stories. The SDK that took me a few years to program will allow me not only to make this series, but many more to come.

    I am, at the same time, trying to stand out of the crowd in a many ways. Right now I'm in the process of implementing co-op gameplay to the mix, so you'll be able to have up to 4 players. On the field when running around through towns, it's going to have 'baton pass' type gameplay in where every minute it switches to the next person to play. In battles it's just going to latch you onto certain characters that you then take control of to fight.

    If you have any specific comments on the graphics, please feel free to say so and I'll see if I can look into it and make some adjustments if it wouldn't take too long to do. Time is always constrained as I don't have a lot of money or anything so I don't have all the time in the world.
  4. AkiraWong89


    Oct 30, 2015
    Haha. It's normal because that game is only available in Japan.
    Japan got a lots of great games but they are always region locked.
    Even if they do localization, usually only Taiwan and HK, not sure why.

    Haha. You need to feel using your heart instead of using your eyes to see.:D

    Me too, give me 5~ ヘ( ^o^)ノ\(^_^ )

    Haha. I always turn on the "Active" mode and fastest ATB timer.
    Means when it's your turn while deciding your action...
    Enemies can still keep slashing you even you do nothing.:D

    Haha. It's OK. Every people have own favorites.
    I also not quite like anime characters where the ratio is incorrect.
    Simply said, I have no feel on Chibi and Loli style characters.

    I think both 2D and 3D have its own pros and cons.
    2D: Easy to make but if you want it smooth, you need to draw a lots of frames.
    3D: Hard to setup at beginning, but once it's done, it's easy to animate in future.
    Of course its up to you, depend on your current proficiency and abilities.
    Sometimes 2D can do very creative thing like Paper Mario.:)

    Haha. It's all about plot twist.
    The more plot twists you got, the more intense the story.
    Look forward to hear your story.;)

    Hmm... Currently hard to imagine.:p
    Considering your game is turn base, if multi-players...
    Won't your friends are easy to get bored while waiting for the main guy?
    But if multi-players got more benefits than single player...
    Example: More attack power, easier loots, cheaper shopping etc...
    That is different story.:)

    Sure no problem, here are my feedback:
    • In-game graphic is a bit dark, lighten it a bit would be better.
    • Needs more color variation on objects such as trees. Not too much, just a little.
    • Try to rearrange those trees a bit, not sure but currently feels a bit messy.
    • Not sure if this would affect your art style. Try to bake a lightmap and see.
    • All UI could be more high quality. Currently looks like RPG Maker kind of feels.
    • Make a portrait beside the conversation UI to shorten paragraph length better.
    • Make the camera in battle higher a bit so the UI won't block those characters.
    • Make the ATB fills faster would be better because time also precious to players.
    Extra suggestion:
    • Try to make a gradient overlay FX over your camera and see if it looks better.
    That's it. Still got more that can be improved but it's not priority.
    Such as the damage, skills and abnormal status presentation and so on.

    Keep it up, cheers.;)
  5. astracat111


    Sep 21, 2016
    @AkiraWong89 Thanks for the feedback! D: !

    I guess the gameplay turned out more like....I'd say a tactics game like FF Tactics in where you do need the time to think and re-strategize every turn. It's not so much an action game as it stands.

    This particular scene is in a forest so I'm going for kind of that natural feel inside of a forest, it gets pretty dark. There are much brighter scenes, maybe it would be best to not advertise the forest scenes as much as they don't really stand out as much as the brighter ones I think for first impressions.

    Their society is showered in forests from North to South, and the civilization often literally and figuratively lives within the trees. A lot of the game then is spent in the shadows inside of forests.

    That's definitely true. For Episodes 1-4 I'm going to stick with these graphics, I plan to have Episodes 1-4 be "Season 1", and then in Season 2 I'm going to need to make upgrades to the game with all the feedback I collect.

    I was designing it for mobile for the longest time, so to keep processing power to a minimum I used literally 2 different trees and no more materials than that to keep the draw calls low. Since I'm kind of targeting PC at this point, I'm looking at adding purple and orange plants as well, so that's a definite need I think.

    To be honest I think it could use some grass and bushes, for future episodes I think all of the graphics could use improvements.

    I'm avoiding baking of any lightmaps for this project for two reasons. Firstly, baked lighting will increase the size of the project. As it stands right now the project comes out to roughly about 300MB of space. Secondly, baked lighting is slow, and one of my main goals is to release one 2 hour episode every 2-3 weeks, get a fast schedule of development going, trying to use the Telltale Games model of speedy development.

    I'm actually going for kind of a Final Fantasy 1-7 feel. There are a lot of things throughout the series that are inspired by Final Fantasy 7, from the window graphics to story elements to even motifs in the music.

    Facesets would take a lot more time, so I'm actually steering clear of facesets, possibly in favor of short 2D animated cutscenes throughout the series, but I'm not sure yet.

    If I make the camera higher, the problem that ensues is that you have 2D characters that look and feel better if the camera is at more of a level. I do have multiple camera views though that you switch from with the Y button.

    For the ATB speed...I'm gonna have to get more feedback on this one first, because I'm not sure myself. I like the slower pacing as it allows you to breath and think. I think that the crowd that enjoys fast paced action games is not what I'm targeting, but instead people that enjoy taking their time and thinking.

    I'm gonna look that up gradient overlay fx. I haven't even heard of a gradiant overlay, looking up now on Youtube...

    I am interested in what you have to say about the damage, the skills and the 'abnormal' status presentation, but I can say this about them...

    For damage, there are now multiple difficulties that nerf and buff the damage of enemies.

    As for skills, I went with the League of Legends way in where you have 3 skills and then like an 'ultimate' that I call a 'signature'. The signature move and combos of abilities need to be added in future episodes for sure.

    I'm not sure what you mean by abnormal status presentation, I actually liked the way status effects came out, but it'd be nice to hear what you think.
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  6. AkiraWong89


    Oct 30, 2015
    Hmm... Not sure how to describe.
    Do you remember a place called Ancient Forest in FF VII?
    That is a big forest too but I don't feel that forest is dark.
    Maybe because the light shaft and shadow contrast on ground?

    Actually which environment to promote is not the issue.
    The key is how you do presentation to audiences to let them remembering you.
    These's several way to do this: Mindfxxk, funny, unexpected, crazy, epic etc...
    The highest level is to invent your own presentation style.
    So when people see this kind of feels, they know it's made by you, like Kojima.
    But please don't over do it. Recently I found out some games especially AAA.
    Their promotion video and actual game play are completely 2 matters.
    Please, don't do this. Keep genuineness.

    Actually no need to over concern about the draw calls issue.
    Nowadays mobile specs and technology are growing rapidly fast.
    I tested with my Huawei Mate 10 mobile device before...
    Even reached almost 100 draw calls, the FPS is still 60, steady.
    Of course doing optimization is always good.

    I suddenly recall an art that I drew before.
    Initially this was released for the Asset Store but then I deprecated it.
    Maybe this could be your references for color variation.:)

    Even the UI resolution?:eek:

    You can think of other ways to solve this.
    The point is... according to my research, from my friends as well.
    They said it's very tired to keep looking at paragraph...
    That's start from far left end to the far right end of the screen.
    This applies to both desktop and mobile screen.
    So you might need to do something to make the paragraph width shorter.

    Because even the ATB is full you also got infinite amount of time to think.
    If your game does not has "Active" mode like FF series. Just my opinion.

    There you go:
    He also created lots of post processing for mobile. You can try all of it. Have fun.;)
    Another cheat way is to make a plane put in front of the camera and do some texturing.

    Abnormal status = Poisoning, bleeding, cursed, any de-buffs etc...
    Take references from most of the RPG game series for example.
    When poisoned, the character has green color animation.
    When cursed, there has a skull icon beyond character head.
    When paralysed, there has some electricity shock animation around the character.
    When de-buffed, there has a purplish color ring animation going from top to bottom.
    And so on...

    Haha. Actually a lots of things are very hard to describe in word. Need to draw instead.
    I will show you some concepts when I'm free on time.:)
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  7. astracat111


    Sep 21, 2016
    That sounds good, I'd definitely love for more people to playtest it, and the demos are coming up as soon as I finish this co-op thing and playtest it one more time (just want to make sure it plays all the way through).

    The thing about the draw calls is I was hitting over 1200 and it uses such an insanely heavy amount of alpha test. I decided to just keep it that way, but I did what I could and got my draw calls to consistently be anywhere from 50-300 in most scenes and places.

    The UI resolution is lower because I'm recording it within the Unity Editor, this isn't a screen capture of the built game.

    I'll need to playtest for the text thing, I....haven't really heard of anything like that before, we'll see how it tests.

    What I do see is that you're saying that status effects might have some looping animations. That's not a bad idea, and I think in future episodes that's probably where it should go, and would add a little more visual stimulation to the experience.

    What I have been trying to explain though, is that I'm very delicately trying to design the power scaling within the series. Instead of thinking magic first and martial arts second, I'm trying to think of designing it almost like it's a sports game first, martial arts first and magic second.

    I was trying to say that in that way magic has a need to be complimentary to the martial arts. There aren't gigantic explosions or huge beams that they shoot out of their hands. I'm not working on something that's going to have 300 bpm music and quick animation transitions and airships in the sky exploding. It's meant to have a very earthy realistic feel. This is why in the game you start with all physical attacks and actually have to earn the magical abilities. Also, my idea is that magic takes up quite a lot of energy to use. Say you throw a magical projectile like a fireball for example. In this world, that will completely and utterly drain you, so it's a very very risky move to use. You might even be better off just using physical attacks with no magic at all.

    So in this way, some of the games basic status effects are, for example, one called "Winded" which simply takes 3-10 or so HP out of your character. It's not a "magical" status effect, it's simply the idea that you got the wind knocked out of you. I think the best way to think about the game, then, is maybe think of it more like a karate simulator almost. Instead of just "Punch", you can learn the abilities "Cross" and "Hook", for example. Instead of the ability "Kick" you can learn "Roundhouse" or "Sidekick". For abilities the magic is added to those like "Wind Cross" and "Wind Hook". It's karate first, magic second in that way.

    Sorry, like a lot of the people that have worked full time in programming here I type fast. I also feel very strongly on this subject what I'm trying to convey.

    Also please don't spend too much time drawing out concepts for me, I'm not worth the time.
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  8. astracat111


    Sep 21, 2016
    I've added in the first tests of co-op gameplay. The UI graphic improvements are coming soon:

  9. AkiraWong89


    Oct 30, 2015
    That could be easily achieving by using texture atlas.
    Pack all opaque, alpha test and transparency objects into its individual material.
    And don't forget the packing tags for user interface sprites.
    Bake occlusion culling, that should lower draw calls a lots.

    I think I get your direction. Something like Chinese Wu Xia right?
    Your magic means 氣功 right? Then 輕功 + 內功 + 外功...
    Sorry I don't know the English word of all Chinese words above.
    I can't find translation. Looks like those terms don't exist in English.:oops:

    Your direction also reminds me 射鵰英雄傳 (PS1) long long time ago.
    A practical martial arts direction kind of game play based on Chinese fiction novel.
    I'm very addicted to this game at that time. Nostalgic.:rolleyes:

    Haha. Don't worry. I also busy on my game project.
    If I draw, I will pretty sure I got enough time to do so.
    By the way I 70% understand your direction already.:)
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
  10. astracat111


    Sep 21, 2016
    Occlusion culling mainly helped me out, I am going to look at texture atlasing for sure, I will make sure to watch a tutorial on it when I get the chance. Anything that speeds it all up is very welcome.

    The game you showed looks very interesting, that's definitely more of how it turned out. I will need to watch some let's plays with the game. Chinese games interest me greatly, because here in America we have JRPG fanatics that have heard of every obscure Japanese title you can think of, but it's rare to hear about titles like the one you've posted.

    One thing I notice that the game you posted has, that my game doesn't have and could use, is at least a little bit of voice acting. It doesn't have to be everywhere, but maybe for main cutscenes it would help a lot. Voice acting only works professionally if you can get local voice actors though, at least in my experience it comes out much better when you can personally give direction.

    Also, from the Chinese game I think that I need to create combos. I have the moves down, now you need to be able to combine the moves, maybe get 2 or 3 turns in one. Signature or 'Ultimate' moves are coming (like with League of Legends), but they won't be as spectacular or beautifully animated as a AAA game for sure.

    I absolutely need to think as simple as possible with every implementation. For example, my friend said there were too many things on screen, and I should be able to disappear certain menus. Well, I can't do that, but I CAN just have a mask that toggles when you hit for example the L button on your controller. I need to find the fastest way to do things. Maybe just improving the VFX in the future would help most?

    Thanks for the feedback, I'll definitely check out your project as well, we can trade some feedback.
  11. AkiraWong89


    Oct 30, 2015
    Usually texture atlasing is planned in the very early stage.
    Because this changes is time consuming if modify in middle of pipeline.
    Of course there's plugins to automatically done atlasing for you.
    The only 1 that I know which work perfectly well is UV Ninja for Maya.
    Not sure about other plugins.

    Actually there's a lots Chinese RPG games in the early 2000's.
    They have long game play and difficulty is quite hard. Like these:
    刀劍封魔錄外傳-上古傳說 (PC / 2003)

    阿瑪迪斯戰記 (PC / 2002)

    天龍八部 (PC / 2002)

    仙劍奇俠傳二 (PC / 2003)

    新絕代雙驕參 (PC / 2002)

    But very less people in Western know about them because they didn't do localization.
    At that time, internet was not a thing yet and not many Chinese know English. Now is better...
    I see Chinese now know to speak English and Westerner also start to learn Chinese as well.:)
    Most of those games are based on WuXia novel written by Louis Cha Jing-Yong.
    Sad news is that he just passed way on last year 2018 October.:(
    But we will never forget all his masterpieces.

    That's sounds great. Ya, you need voice actors to do that professionally.
    But I believe that kind of "Hee", "Hah", "Heeyaa", "Ouch" are able to record yourself.:D

    Sounds great too. Almost all RPG games have combo system.
    Because you can use this as an strategy. Higher combos, higher damages.
    So players will find a way to achieve the highest combos possible.
    Increased a bit of game play variation.
    You can also make one enemy which has overpowered defense.
    No matter what skill players use, the damage is always 1.
    That way player will unleash their creativity on combo chaining.
    Something like the Final Guard in Castlevania series.

    You always can use that kind of notebook UI style for many contents.
    Click the bookmark to go to specific page and hide all unused info.
    So far as I see your game play video, I feel is OK. Nothing is too much.
    But just realized that there has a low quality outer glow effect around the bar.
    This looks like image being over stretched hence causing this effect.

    My suggestion is to focus on your episode 1 and some simple VFX first.
    Then invest on doing marketing material: posters, trailers, influencer etc...
    Quickly release the product and see how the market react to your game.
    According to feedback from players, you can do adjustment while making EP2.
    Remember, content is not important, the key is how you present it to people.
    Like advertisement you see everywhere, more unique, more easier to remember.
    Good luck.;)

    Sure thing, no problem. Since we live in different culture.
    Our feedback should be very interesting.:D
    Last edited: May 11, 2019