Last time: Fantasy and sci-fi nonsense.
Well, it's time, boys and girls. I will be releasing Episode 3 in all its splendor tonight. You'll know it's available when the banner up top on the main page changes. As per my usual routine, I'll spend this article talking about stuff only tangentially related to game design and more related to my bullshit.
Through a stroke of luck (they were hiding in the USB flash drive on my watch) (yes I am as big a nerd in real life as you think), I found a few early design drafts and concept pieces for I Miss the Sunrise. I decided, what the hey, I'll share them whether they like it or not.
Click for full size
This is my original mockup for the battle interface after I'd decided to start over in RPG Maker. As you may recall, the original design was to be a full-on multi-ship melee with dozens of units on each side, but after the tool I was using didn't perform as well as I'd hoped, I decided to scale things back into a more traditional RPG gameplay shell. As you can see, it basically looks like the final product; however, there are some important distinctions:
- You'll note there is no "Phase" counter, and the queue repeats itself; originally, I was thinking of having the same turn order mechanic as The Reconstruction, where everything was relatively seamless. I ultimately decided against it, since I discovered I have no concept of balancing a speed stat, and thus the Phase system was born.
- You'll also notice enemy/actor names are show with their icons in the queue, and enemies are distinguished with letters. I discovered I didn't have enough space for this in the tiny RMVX resolution, and it wasn't a big deal anyway, so to the scrap heap with you!
- The grid itself is 6-wide on each side, instead of 5 as it is now. This is because A-Type weapons originally had a range of 6. Then I thought, "that's stupid, 5-4-3 is much easier to remember" so I scrapped it too.
- The ship graphics are much simpler and more stylized. I actually think I like them this way better. I'm not sure why I swapped to the neon tubes.
- All resistances are listed right on the actor's stat box. This is, obviously, a god damned mess, so I got rid of it and went for the scrolling ticker instead.
- AP is yellow instead of blue, and there is a "Leader" marker, which I got rid of because it turned out the leader would always be in the first row anyway. The "Act" arrow is somewhat different now, and there is no "Next" marker, as it would be superfluous.
- There's no Critical Chain counter. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the Chain mechanic at the time.
- Biggest noticeable difference: the main menu was to be exactly how you see it, with the weapons always featured prominently and the other actions pushed to the side. I'm not 100% sure how this would have worked out. Also of note: Tezkhra had the AUG's Scanner ability instead of a LAC's Boost.
- The weapon list and status box both turned out nicely in the final product. I added the green "safe zones" much later (after Episode 0 had been released, in fact!). There is a big gap between the grid and the status box, as you can see. I was originally planning to have drawings of the pilot character appear here, sort of behind the status box and above it and facing one another, but I got lazy (and didn't have space on the screen for them either - irony!)
That's not the only thing that changed. I went through several ideas for how the mission maps should look before settling on the abstract nonsense I've got now. However, one particularly ugly version stands out...
GAHH! I mean, uh, welcome to the very first (and only) map in Episode 0 (minus the nodes and interface)! Never mind the fact that, in space, all those structures shouldn't be oriented the same way. Also, the background is static and rather jarring. And there is gratuitous use of the bevel tool afoot. Have you noticed how this map in the real game is much more detailed with labels and unique "stuff" than pretty much every other map in the game? This is why. It was designed to look believable, so I had to create all the structures in various levels of disarray and then point out what they were. This was exhausting, so, never again, I said. Plus, goddamn is it ugly.
The title "I Miss the Sunrise" came from a friend of mine talking to me on an instant messenger program. He was lamenting working third shift and only being awake when it was dark out. This was back before I had even finished The Reconstruction, and I instantly knew I had to use the phrase for something. So, thanks, J.D. When I'm rich and famous, I'll give you a cut of the proceeds.
I mentioned way back in the earlier articles of this series that I was planning on ten episodes. Haha, not gonna happen. The true count will be five; however, I am leaving the post-game open for a steady stream of new content if there is sufficient demand, and I will probably do some rewriting on weaker parts of the story before I put out the last episode, so there is no reason not to play through again! I planned ten initially because I was thinking of having more "adventures in SPACE!" type segments. Then I decided that would be stupid.
I also mentioned having twenty characters eventually recruitable. This too, is all lies, mostly because I discovered the rearrangement menu wouldn't work right if you jam-packed the entire roster and didn't have any free spaces. The final count now is sixteen; of the four I cut, three got demoted to plain old NPC status (the last I may introduce as an NPC too; I haven't decided yet). I refuse to reveal all of them, but I will say one of them was Amalas, your fleet coordinator on the Inquiry. There is a weird moment at your first launch where Rami gets all flirty with her; there was supposed to be a subquest where you help him try to win her affections and she would in turn join your party. I decided this was hokey and stupid as hell, so that stands as a bizarre out-of-character moment that I will no doubt remove in the "definitive" edition of the game.
Players of The Reconstruction may remember that, in order to recruit Tezkhra, you had to find every other party member first. I will say that there will be one of those again, and unlike poor, slow Tez, s/he will be worth it. And it's not who you expect it to be!
Finally, there is a bonus boss returning from The Reconstruction who can be fought in Episode 3. There will also be another whom you will meet post-game. Maybe more. We'll see.
That's all for now. Big thanks to my cast of supporters, my gracious beta testers, and the half dozen or so of you who actually read this! See y'all tonight! Comments powered by Disqus