Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dev Blog: Art update

Hey guys,

I have a quick update for you. This is a test character our wonderful artist mocked up for us today. I think it looks pretty awesome! It isn't set in stone by any means, buuuuut it shows a bit of our work and progress.

We've been going back and forth about art style and this is the art style we've settled on.

We'll have walk animations and other stuff up soon. It isn't as high resolution as it will be either. This is just a preliminary first character and it will be subject to change.

Feel free to follow me (Herrick) on twitter or facebook too! 'I am currently listening to Fight as One by Bad City

Friday, July 19, 2013

Team update: Art and the like

Hi there,

I've significantly revised our roster for the upcoming game project.

Programming: Cody Wyres
Creative Lead: Myself
Game/level design: Corey Hollins
Art: Ryan Cabral

Open Positions:
Concept artist
(Possible) second 2d artist
(Possible) Programmer
(Possible) Level Designer

Extra: These are characters that may help us at different stages of the process. More on them in the future!
Writer: Ross Watson
Programmer: Joel Crisp

So questions:
Why are there no 3d positions available? I revised our open positions, due to a change in art direction. This is a very new project and it is a fluid process.

This has all been in the planning stages since earlier in the week and I've gotten a lot of interest from a number of people. So, I feel it is only fair to carefully lay out our art expectations and considerations for the future of the project.

Talking extensively with our lead artist Ryan, we came to a couple realizations.

First, this is an indipendent project. We can't field a massive team, so we have to work with what we have got. That means creating an art direction that can be fielded by five to eight people in total, including programming and design.

We were originally going to use a 3d art style with three dimensional models. I really liked the idea of that, but when we were reviewing team requirements, realized it would take two extra people, at least one of which I have no prior experience working with to make it work.

Money constraints and time constraints aside, that would also create too many extra steps.

We originally wanted a 2 dimensional cartoony serious feel for the graphics and played with the idea of using 2d animations overlayed onto a flat plane, that would turn with the camera for the first 180 degrees showing the front, then at the second 180 degrees show the back of the character. Thus giving the illusion of complexity.

We scrapped it originally because sprites are a bit out dated in favor of using 3d models, but decided to revisit the idea. This time it would be animations made in photoshop. We could make them higher resolution and really make them pop.

I like that and it allows me to cut the team size down as well.

I am still looking at hiring one more 2d person, but we'll see. For now I'm happy with the team we have. The only thing I'm still looking for is a great concept artist.

Other than that, honestly we are ready to go! This is rather suprising to me. I was half expecting this to be a long and arduous process, but nay. We only need one guy/gal!

Anyhoo, thanks for reading!

- Herrick

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Creative lead, Dev diary 2: Classes


I started working today on classes for the upcoming RPG. It is an interesting thing, sitting down and going "Hmm, what do I think is fun?" I come to find myself looking at a lot of past games, their designs, the paths they tread and why their stuff worked.

The most important thing that I want to hit is established norms coupled with original ideas. There are a number of really wonderful design tropes that don't NEED to be adjusted. Everyone likes "Wizards" and "Priests" in a fantasy setting. But, it is up to me to make these both unique in some ways and useful to the player, while being understandable.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Creative lead, Developer Diary: Day 1 THE BEGINNING!

Hi there,

This is a new developer diary that I'm going to be doing. In preparation for the kickstarter, I'm going to be doing this. It is a REALLY far way down the line, but I am currently getting the design documentation together.

A little about the project that I am going to be working on:

This is going to be a strategy RPG in the vein of final fantasy tactics, fire emblem, etc.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How do you...write a novel?

I received a question from a fan writing books. 

Adnan: Hey dude…I need to know…how do you write a book? Lol xD I mean…like…I have a bunch of ideas and but I feel like they've all been done before.

Okey dokey, so the essence of this question (as you could probably guess) is not how do I write a book, but how do I start writing my book? In all honesty, it is a heck of a lot easier than I a lot of people realize because what many people believe to be a daunting task (100 pages, 1000 pages, etc.) really amounts to constant applied effort and a solid vision of your book. 

Rather than talking to you about writing out an entire book here and now, I think the most important part is getting your ideas in order. 

So here is a quick template that may help you get started. 

What is your book about? Sum it up in at most, two sentences. 

Ex: A Scholar's Journey: The Divine Tempest (my book)

A scholar and his protector fight against all manner of supernatural threats as they search for truth in a world turned upside down. 

Who is/are your main character/s

Penndarius Greyson - a naive scholar who is thrust into a world of intrigue.
Soren Luna Mortalitas - a talented fighter who was drawn into battle by his family's past. 

What can they do? How do they do it? What makes them special? 

Soren is a hand to hand fighter with a checkered past. His brother is an assassin and his father killed the rest of his family. He has an enhanced body: minor increases to strength, endurance, and regeneration.  

Where does your book take place? 

Therra, an original fantasy world. (Fill in the details later, such as how magic is used, what races exist, religion, etc) You just want a rough idea of what you are writing about. 

Who is your main antagonist/s? (The bad guy)

Diametries Malus Aequitas - a speaker for the god of law and order, intent on bringing daemons into the world. 
Kestrel: A daemon sent ahead to open the way for his brethren. 
Dayvion Luna Mortalitas: An assassin who serves Diametries. He is also Soren's brother. 

Who are your side characters?

Jadice Fillial: A highly religious captain in the white guard and servant to Diametries. He and his brother are unwittingly drawn into the speaker's plot.  
Aedan Fillial: An intelligent shrewd captain and brother to Jadice. 
Urielle Sincero: A seer for the god El'ron. She comes to Deiyil to watch events as They unfold. 
Azlea the Ashen: A magus from the Pentacle who comes to oversee negotiations between the anthra and the rahlien. 

What demographic are you aiming for? 

Young adult, epic fantasy

Now for the main body of your book.

This part is a bit more free flow, but my process generally comes down to me thinking up a number of interesting scenes that I want to write and then putting them into the step by step of events.

I call these "Epic moments". They are designed to cause the reader to hold their breath. Imagine the scenes that stick in memory, like in the Two Towers "Ya gonna have ta toss me!" I can still visualize that scene, even though it has been a few months since I've watched the movie. It is these scenes that will make a reader talk about your book, "Do you remember when..." that is what you are going for. You want people not just remembering your stuff, but talking about it too. Most books get passed around to friends and family, they sell because a reader connects with the author's writing style.

The most important thing that I find is that I have fun. If I'm having fun, the reader will too.

Anyway, thank you for reading! Have a great day!

Feel free to follow me (Herrick) on twitter or facebook too! '

I am currently listening to No Plan B by Manafest

My kickstarter  was successful, but if you like check out a secondary funding link here.  And you can still support my continued efforts.  you like, I'm funding the editing of my second book and it is a great place to get a copy of either The Divine Tempest or my upcoming book A War of Lies. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guest post by Ross Watson

Hi there guys, Herrick here. Today I have a wonderful suprise for you all! My friend and Colleague Ross Watson is writing a guest post for my blog!

Boost Resources

Greetings, readers! I was very pleased to work alongside Herrick when I was writing quests and dialogue for Darksiders II at the ill-fated Vigil Studios. When Herrick invited me to write a guest post for his blog, I jumped at the chance – I have my own gaming blog where I’ve been chronicling my thoughts on gaming for over a year now.

So what I’d like to talk about today is the concept of “boost resources.” This is my term for mechanics in RPGs that are used by players to get some kind of mechanical advantage during the game.
These resources go by many names; Fate Points, Hero Points, Bennies. What I think is really interesting about them is that it puts some control in the hands of the player towards achieving meaningful success – which is a huge goal for most roleplaying games.

Anything that helps give a player more opportunities to be awesome is a good thing in my book!

Now, the specifics of how these resources vary from game to game. For me, a good “boost resource” offers the player meaningful choices, adds some control to the character, is /not/ a replacement for experience points, and has a possibility of a small amount of narrative control. Sometimes, boosts are merely re-rolls, but others are strict bonuses.

I spoke already a bit about meaningful choice above, in that a boost resource can offer a player a better shot at doing something fun and awesome during the game. Unfortunately, many systems in the past have used boost resources as experience points as well, which in my book is a cardinal sin of game design. Boost resources should not be hoarded to improve the character over the long term… instead, those boost resources should be used during each game to provide those memorable moments of awesome. I vastly prefer a resource that gives an undeniable bonus rather than a simple re-roll… re-rolls have the side effect that sometimes a re-roll will be the same or even worse than the original test.

Now, narrative control is the most unusual of the options I mentioned above. What narrative control represents is the ability for the player to describe events or elements of his surroundings, or even some minor developments in the story. The boost resource represents a form of bargaining with the GM. In effect, the player says “I want there to be a fire extinguisher on the wall,” or “The evil king happens to be standing underneath a massive tapestry,” and the GM responds with “Sure, but you need to turn in a Fate Point.”

Results for this kind of bargaining are going to vary wildly from GM to GM, so keep in mind that YMMV!

In my own personal experience, I enjoy this kind of back-and-forth communication with the GM, and sometimes a boost resource is well-spent to have a convenient chandelier to swing on when the time is right!

Below I have listed some RPGs and briefly explain how their boost resources function:

Feng Shui
Resource Name: Fortune Dice
Resource Notes: Fortune dice can be used to roll an additional positive die for tests, meaning that the test will always be better. A character’s total Fortune is used for general “luck” of the character. This resource refreshes every session.

Resource Name: Hero Points
Resource Notes: Spent for re-rolls, bonuses, going first in a combat round, restoring spells. 2 points can be spent to avoid death. Limited narrative control is spelled out in the abilities of a Hero Point.

Star Wars D6
Resource Name: Force Points
Resource Notes: A spent Force Point doubles the effect of the character’s roll (as long as it affects the character himself; it can’t be spent for the spaceship’s armor roll, for example). Force Points are awarded for doing cool, cinematic acts. Force Points also act as a form of tracking a character’s morality – force points equal “light side” vs. the “dark side.” Dark Side Points can also be awarded for acting villainously.

Warhammer 40K Roleplay
Resource Name: Fate Points
Resource Notes: Spent for re-rolls, bonuses, going first in a combat round, limited healing. Can be “burned” permanently to avoid death. Fate Points typically refresh every session.

Shadowrun 4e
Resource Name: Edge
Resource Notes: Spent for re-rolling failures (so no roll will ever get worse), going first in a combat round, additional actions. Can be “burned” permanently to achieve critical success on a single roll or to avoid death. Edge typically refreshes every session. Edge is also used as a general measure of the overall “luck” of the character.

Resource Name: Possibilities
Resource Notes: Unfortunately, Possibilities are also a character’s XP. Possibilities can be spent for limited narrative control and to boost a character’s result for any test. Possibilities are always an improvement – there is no way that the test will be the same or less than it was.

Marvel Super Heroes
Resource Name: Karma
Resource Notes: Unfortunately, Karma is also a character’s XP. Unlike the other resources on this list, Karma is much more granular – it is spent 1-for-1 to improve a roll on a percentile system (d100). MSH’s unique chart system means that karma can be spent to achieve any level of success desired. Karma is awarded for acting in keeping with the tradition of a classic superhero.

Savage Worlds
Resource Name: Bennies
Resource Notes: Bennies are meant to be awarded by the GM in return for clever play, keeping the players entertained, and cinematic action moments. Bennies can be spent to recover from being “Shaken” (allowing your character to take an action he would otherwise be denied), to soak physical damage to the character, and to gain a re-roll of a particular test.

Ross Watson

Feel free to follow me (Herrick) on twitter or facebook too! '

I am currently listening to Firefly by Owl City

Check out my kickstarter if you like, I'm funding the editing of my second book and it is a great place to get a copy of either The Divine Tempest or my upcoming book A War of Lies. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

How to become the Bruce Lee of writing (or whatever) Part 1: Picking your characters

Writing a fight scene in a book is not an easy task. There is a lot of stuff that goes into a good fight scene. So lets look at how you go about writing the perfect fight scene.  This is part one, so we'll look at picking your character. (Hey...this is kind of like Dungeons and Dragons!)

I don't use any of these characters in my books. But! They are great examples that everyone knows. That makes it easy for people to relate. Let's get going!

Pick your perfect characters for the fight


The hulk is the guy you throw into a fight when you want to break a city. (That's right a whole city.) His opponents can be big. They can be intimidating and they can even be gods! "PUNY GOD!" (the HULK again)