The Life of a Tank

It’s been awhile! Hope you all are enjoying Iron Waifu, I know I’ve had a few surprises myself, and several not so surprises, but it seems to be turning out very well. The voting numbers tell a bit of an interesting story compared to last year but perhaps it’d be better to get into that after all is said and done, needless to say we’re very happy to see the how things have been turning out this year!

Now, it’s been awhile since I’ve made a post so it’d be a good idea for me to talk about what I’ve been working on and while I probably could go into the new victory barks feature that we’ve got I’d rather talk about that after the upcoming release as there’s still a lot of odds and ends I’m ironing out there, instead let’s talk about tanks in RPGs in general.

See, I’m sure that we can easily identify a character that’s got a lot of HP, that has high defensive stats, maybe it’s a character who gets a lot of super armor, that’s not hard to find, but something that I’ve noticed in a lot of games that I’ve played throughout the years is that while you can find MANY tanks, there’s a lot fewer successful tanks, at least in the games that I play. What do I mean by that? Simple, a successful tank isn’t just about being able to take punishment but it needs to take punishment instead of the rest of the party, after all being basically unkillable rarely is the key to success (though there’s been a few fights when I found it easier to solo a boss with my unmovable rock character than waste items keeping party members alive), instead if you have a character who skipped out on other things to pursue (damage, speed, healing, buffing, debuffing, etc.) to focus on it’s own defensive abilities it needs to be able to supplement the other important roles by making sure the rest of the team can do those with very little issue, and it’s very important to keep this in mind because if a tank cannot prevent damage going to other allies in one way or another then you’re not apart of the team you exist next to the team. I’ve seen a number of people who try to play say tabletop games thinking that simply having high HP or defense is enough to make them a tank, when in actuality the party only lives thanks to the DM being generous and intentionally attacking the hard to kill character even when there is little or no penalty for attacking another character and a much bigger reward (like taking out the cleric or wizard), so keep that in mind if you plan to play the ‘tank’, if you don’t have a way to ensure that damage doesn’t go to your teammates then you might want to figure out a way to do that.

“But Conash,” you begin, “what does any of this have to do with what you’ve been working on?” Well to get to the point, I have not been happy with how tanks behave in HC for quite awhile now, on either end but for two different problems. Let’s start with the player side since you the player obviously will be playing from that end, in HC NoMoshing did a great job setting up equipment, skills, and classes to take advantage of the innate ‘Threat’ system in RPG Maker VX Ace, if you ever decide to join me and RomeoPapa in our pursuit of more difficult challenges in HC you’ll learn very quickly just how important threat management is to taking on quests above your weight class, I really like the threat system in HC, and have even made use of it for some hidden little details (Try checking out Yamamaya or Bronwyn’s status page during ‘Elf Half Empty’ sometime), but the threat system has a very big flaw in it that’s become more and more of an issue as the game progresses. See, threat impacts who an enemy targets when they choose someone on your team, but when they throw out an AoE attack, one which hits ‘everyone’? Well that ignores threat entirely, leaving characters like Yeon completely at the mercy of how often enemies spam this, as your tanks have no way to keep her safe. This issue has been a growing complaint for quite awhile, so with the help of ShadowCluster, I managed to put together a brand new feature into the game, player blocking! I’m sure that you’re all familiar with times that enemies will block your attacks no matter what (and I’ll get to all the problems there in a second) but never saw it happen on your end (because it was happening a step before where they flat out didn’t target the low threat characters to begin with), well in this upcoming update you’ll finally be able to see that! The game will now include a system where a character with a ‘Taunt’ status (like Martyrdom, Font of Life, Phalanx, Attract, or similar skills) will have a chance to ‘block’ the hit a character would receive from AoE attacks, the formula to determine this is based off of threat chance but the basics are that if the tank has high threat and the targeted character has low threat you’ll have a better chance of blocking the hit. This little effect requires a taunt skill since some characters can get threat ratings so low (Elaiya) that they’d never take an AoE hit otherwise, and while it’s important that a tank can do their job it’s also important that if they’re dieing that you don’t have to worry about them taking all 4 hits from an AoE every round while you try to heal them up. Though if you plan to bring multiple tanks keep in mind that it rolls the ‘block’ chance based for whoever is in the first party slot, followed by the second, third, etc. until someone successfully blocks, so if you plan to use Yamamaya to block the occasional attack and Therese to pick up the rest put Yamamaya in first otherwise she probably won’t even get a chance unless Therese misses (also if a character does have a taunt skill up, no one else can ‘block’ for them, this one’s hard-coded). The formula may need some tweaking if it turns out to be too eager to activate, but I am still very happy with the general outline of the system as it puts a high amount of the control of the mechanic in the player’s hands, allowing you all to adjust it to your liking! Also little pro-tip: If you’re having trouble with say Force Barrage, if you can try to get someone to activate a taunt skill then guard like crazy, since you can’t be knocked down while you’re guarding so this would help let you protect your lower threat party members from the occasional status effect.

Now, this all probably sounds great right? I certainly think so, but some of you might be wondering why I had to create my own formula (or ask ShadowCluster to make one more precisely), rules, and basically create a new mechanic like this when enemies are already able to do this sorta thing, that brings us to my issues with enemy tanks. See, threat doesn’t work on enemies because surprisingly having a 100% invisible parameter on the enemies that has no actual gameplay impact isn’t very effective at convincing players to not kill that very deadly mage instead of going after the tank in front of them who isn’t a big threat on their own, and because of this we have to rely on the substitute mechanic in RPG Maker for enemy tanks. I absolutely loathe the substitute mechanic, and while I’m usually very quick to blame Enterbrain for any and all issues I have with RPG Maker, this mechanic I’ve found as common practice even in Final Fantasy games so it’d be unfair to single out Enterbrain. See, substitute works in that a character who gets marked with the substitute flag will 100% of the time block any hits targeting characters with low enough HP (usually below 25% or 10% max HP), unless the person with the flag has some kind of status effect or something else that stops them. The problem with this is that it’s inherently useless for roughly 75%-90% of the battle, and then after that? Nothing gets through, making it so that players who have no hard-counters can’t do anything except work their way through the tank. On top of that because these flags are rarely, if ever, permanent you need to spend one of your very limited actions hoping that one of your characters will be at a low enough threshold for you to defend them, without dying before you go, and that your defense of them will matter (if they don’t get targeted it was a wasted action). No matter how you run the math, 9 times out of 10 you’re just better off healing the person instead of bothering to deal with this terrible mechanic to keep people from dying. This isn’t even getting into the issues of the 100% chance issue can easily put the tank in a position where they’re taking way too much damage to keep up as more and more characters fall into the threshold or how it offers players no customization of prioritizing certain characters over others… That said, as highly critical as I am of this mechanic (and I hope that you can see why I prefer my innate blocking chance system for players over this) we use it for enemy tanks in HC largely out of necessity, we have no other tools we can use to have enemies influence who you attack. I plan to down the road mess with the formula so that it scales, in a way so that as the enemy loses more HP the chance to substitute grows making substitution an all-present annoyance but never a hard road-block (if you have no counters), while still preserving the general intention behind it. Until then though, I think that I’ll experiment with a few other tank improvisations, for example since one of the two new bosses in this upcoming update fills a tank role, I figured that I’d take a page out of the ‘Warder’ book from Path of War, and give them the ability to give you a rather noticeable miss chance on all your abilities that don’t target them (for a limited time). I’ll probably have to tweak a lot of the numbers here but I think figuring out alternate tanking strategies is going to become integral for supplementing the substitution mechanic in creating tanks as a whole.

I’ve probably rambled on quite a lot about the importance for a tank to be able to control aggro, so instead of going into a big long rant about how to properly control aggro in the Tales of games, I’ll call it here. Please feel free to share any questions, comments, or concerns as you see fit!

Some Good News, Finally

So, something good happened to me this past weekend.

A relative of mine sent me a cheque, for a large but not huge amount of money (I know this is super relative- it’s more than I make in a month but less than I make in a year, let me put it that way). Apparently, they sold some property that used to belong to my father, and felt I deserved to get a piece.

Now, of course, I did some dumb and not-so-dumb stuff with a bit of the money, as anyone would when they receive an unexpected windfall. Getting some work done on the house, bought a copy of Kirby Super Star for my retro game collecton, that sort of thing.

But I can’t with a clear conscience enjoy this windfall without contributing to the same project that you all are- that is, Harem Collector, and Bad Kitty Games in general.

Those of you who follow me when I stream will know that I’ve been having more and more frequent hardware problems. Abyss, my PC, and Meido, my laptop, have both been having more and more frequent issues. I’ve been reluctant to switch to new hardware up to this point, as doing so would require me siphoning out of the (already plenty disrupted) art budget. I was waiting for something in the formula to change- either the Patreon gets a big hike, or I save up enough bellmarks and Tim Hortons coupons, or Abyss finally becomes irrepairable and I have to do *something*.

Well, something happened- I got this windfall. So, without having to take any money from my awesome backers or HC development at all, I can replace at least my work PC and, if I can, also the lappy.

Also, I’m looking to accelerate some of my own art. It’ll depend on what costs how much and how everything shakes out, but there are a few sex scenes which I’d like to have finished that aren’t connected to any particular character but would be pretty pricey to have done, so it’s a hard thing to justify when there are so many main cast harem girls who are lacking in art.

So just thought I’d share what’s going on. Hopefully this doesn’t inspire anyone to leave- I’m not suddenly rich or something- I just wanted to share my good fortune and what this means for Bad Kitty Games.

Hope you’re enjoying Iron Waifu, and I’ll see you all later!

Keep On Keeping On

Fuck, I missed another blog post Wednesday again….

So, there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in my life right now. Rest assured that, even if I can’t always communicate effectively or stream every day, that I make keeping my promises to backers and supporters of Bad Kitty Games my top priority.

The next release is shaping up to be pretty good. While it might not have all the bells and whistles compared to the last few releases, there will be two new quests and there is an extra secret or two to uncover, plus some new sprites and art to enjoy.

As for the reason why it’s been so hectic for me lately, it’s a dogpile of several factors. Tax season, mother-in-law’s medical situation, upcoming vacation (which we will hopefully still get to go on…), spring cleaning and repair, etc. It’s just a lot of stuff, and while I mostly have it under control, some of my non-game-development duties have suffered. Sorry!

Anyway, that’s it for this week. Any bets on if I’ll remember for next Wednesday?

The Most Wonderful (Waifu) Time of the Year!

It’s May! Spring is (mostly) here, nature is blooming, birds are singing…and it’s the perfect time to pit the lovely ladies of HC is a no-holds barred tournament to the (sticky?) finish. That’s right, it’s Iron Waifu!

I, Nekochan, shall be your ever so humble guide to this year’s edition of Iron Waifu!

For those who are new or those just would like a refresher, during the month of May, everyday there will be a poll on the forum, featuring two of the ladies in HC. Anyone registered for said forum may vote once each day. The girl who gets the most votes moves on while the girl who loses is likely tortured in some sexy fashion by Hero for her failure. (Personal headcanon, may not actually happen)

If any ties occur, I get the the completely impartial and in no way biased tiebreaker vote. Does a match-up look like it’s going to the wire? May be time to sell me on the virtues of the fair maiden you want to see win!

Today’s (almost over match-up) is Brigadine vs Evanie. If you haven’t already please take the time to vote! Tomorrow`s will be a battle of the newbies Miri and Pandora! Who shall win? Nap-time waifu or the waifu who may be literally made of iron? (I dunno, NoMoshing won’t commit to what Pandora is made of)

The remaining match-ups for the preliminary rounds can also be found on the forum. They were selected at random via a RPG maker script that was viewed live at the last backer stream! (Plug plug)

Speaking of backer streams, the dates for the next ones have been confirmed:

  • May 4th from 3 to 6 pm EST
  • May 19th from 3 to 6pm EST

As always the first hour will be NoMoshing playing a PC game while our noble viewers get the giggles out of their system. The remaining time will be NoMoshing working on HC while the chat tries their damnedest to distract him by discussing the minutiae of Middle Kingdom economics or absurd fan theories (like Natya is the third secret sister of Therese and Alina! They all have brown hair in this technicolour harem – it must be true!).

I assume that for the month of May, the backer stream will be the best way to get the real-time thoughts and feelings about how Iron Waifu is progressing. (Fair warning, I may be the poutiest of Nekoes if too many of my cinnamon rolls get voted out) That, or the HC discord.

Anyhoo, thanks one and all and we hope to see you on the forums as you, the fans, determine who is the (4th) best waifu!

A Little Break

This past week I took a bit of a surprise break from work- thanks to everyone who was affected, particularly those of you who watch the silent streaming on weekdays. I really appreciate your patience as I go about sorting my shit out.

It was just a case that between all the cross-promotions, building the website, taking care of Nekochan with her twisted ankle, helping Nekochan take care of her sick mother, and everything, I was getting tense and angry all the time, and Conash finally convinced me to take some time off to relax and get my feet back under myself.

So I spent some time just kind of chilling out, playing lots of Breath of Fire 2 (thanks, people at the Devstream last Saturday!), picking up the Switch release of Wasteland 2, and fussing over the Song of Ice and Fire RPG campaign I’m currently playing in. It was nice, I got over (most of) my stress, and I think I’m ready to tqckle the challenges coming up ahead.

First of all- the Crystalline Village some of you may have seen me working on during the afternoon devstreaming- that might have to rest for a bit. I have a detailed idea in mind for a series of puzzles for that dungeon, and they require an intricate series of tiles from Kumiho- probably the biggest single bag of assets I’ve ever ordered from her.

For now, I’m moving on to the other quest we had planned for this cycle- the first real showdown between the military forces of the Middle Kingdom and the might of Kellos! The Hero will be bravely wading into battle on a special mission to seek out and destroy the Kellosian leadership and help turn the tide in the Middle Kingdom’s favour. If he successfully blunts the Kellosian’s forward advance, the way will be open to take back Eastfort… but what if Barst intervenes?

Well, you’ll just have to play and find out!

Harem Collector v0.39 Public Release!

Get it here!

Changes in this version:
-You can now complete the “Stranger Things” quest by exploring the crater at the extreme left side of the main map!
-You can also complete a new quest by talking with Jakuhl in the elf village after completing “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”
-The Southport item shop is now for sale… and that means you get to meet new harem girl Miri!
-Larelle’s chat dialogue is COMPLETE as of the current version. She comments on all 28 possible other harem girls, 51 quests, has a short series of personal conversations and explains all her skills and spells.
-Lilac and Violet now have personal things they will share in their respective chat menus if you ask.
-After so long asking, I’ve finally implemented the Delish Candy Co. Headquarters in Westcastle, intended as an extreme late-game or post-game investment. But some of you might NG+ your way through or figure out how to min/max your way there. Either way, there are more benefits to this investment than just extra cash flow- enjoy finding out!
-On top of the full art sex scene with Miri, there are also four new text-only sex scenes, including a solo scene for each of Lilac and Violet, a 4p scene with Chimei, Larelle and Kyrie, and a special “other” scene that’s a bit of a secret.

Website Done, What Next?

Ah, so the website is finally finished and out there, and the old website safely packed away where it can do longer hurt anyone. And, as a bonus, there were no problems or bugs in how the site was put together- well, I suppose I should say, at least none that came back to me. I hope this new site will last us for many years.

Redesigning the website has been a major time sink for me in the last month and a half. While standalone WordPress is pretty easy to use, there was terminology to learn, visual deisgn to mull over, plugins to negotiate into cooperating. The last time I put together my own website, it was on Angelfire of all fucking things, so there was quite a bit to learn for myself, and I am also old enough that a lot of software isn’t intuitive for me anymore.

So, now that the new website isn’t taking up so much of my time, what’s next?

A high priority right now is working more on ILTSDK!! There is lots of writing to do, characters to make, mechanics to plan. While Harem Collector is the focus of my attention, I want to make good progress on ILTSDK so that when it comes time for primary production, the team and I can put in our full effort and work efficiently. The way that Harem Collector has gone, with me making things up as I go, hasn’t been the best and I’d like to do better.

The other thing I want to do is investigate how best to market Harem Collector and offer great incentives for existing backers to switch to higher tiers, without increasing the prices for the tiers that currently exist. I want to be able to afford a good composer to make more proprietary music for the game, I want to be able to get an animator for doing new battle animations and make all the special skills and spells really pop. I also want more and faster sex scene art. And, well, if I’m being honest, I’ve been feeling the pinch more and more at home and making a little more money for myself would be nice.

To that end, I’m going to be doing some more formal polls a bit later this month, but please let me know your own thoughts in the comments. If you’re a backer, let me know what sort of rewards you would find valuable, and don’t be afraid to show me ideas from other projects you support. If you’re not a backer, let me know what I could offer that might stoke your interest. Or just tell me that I’m a sell out or saint, or whatever else, I suppose.

Next week is the public release of v0.39, so please look forward to it!

Artist Situation

Jeez, we’re just full of situations lately.

So I’ve been keeping it pretty low key, for various reasons, but just to let you all know, once the last few Larelle and Shally pics are done, SacB0y will no longer be contributing art to Harem Collector. He had encountered time management problems, which those of you who have been paying close attention probably picked up on, and has chosen to focus on his work for Outbreak Games and the occasional contractor

However, I’ve already been in talks with several artists. Next month we should be able to recover from the jumble and carry on with the Therese artwork without falling much further behind. For now, I am continuing to work with Hilent, the artist who did the Miri pics and face set that some of your have already seen in the backer mini-release.

I’m sorry for not being more transparent about this, but I didn’t want to say anything while SacB0y was still finishing up the last of his piecework. But with the public release just around the corner, it didn’t feel right to continue leaving Hilent off the credits list, and I didn’t want to go changing the credits list without some explanation as to why for our awesome supporters. It is by no means a dire situation.

As for the backer release! We’re looking good for it coming out by midnight, or just a shade after. Unfortunately, I was very depressed yesterday, and lost a lot of time as a result, and we’re paying for it now. I do feel as though this is a pretty strong update, though, so please look forward to it!

Forum Situation

So, the forum is still down. We’re getting pretty close to being finished on that end, and if the new, revamped forum with spinners and undercar lights is not up later tonight it will be before the end of the week. Getting the style and visual design of the forum might take a bit, but we’ll have all the functionality there- the progress trackers, wallpapers, short stories and everything will be ported over.

The reason why we’ve put all this fuss into a new forum is because we want a long-form space where the Bad Kitty Games can discuss the games and everything that we love in detail. Discord is great, but it’s ultimately a chat room, and all things there are transient. Patreon is a great way for me to communicate with you about discussions I lead, but it’s not ideal for back-and-forth dialogue.

But that said, especially with the advent of our Discord channel, the old forum ended up underutilized. We used it for weekly discussions, Iron Waifu and collecting bug reports, and that was basically it. Ultimately, this is a place for you, the fans and supporters of Harem Collector and Bad Kitty Games, to come together, discuss things, play, share and communicate. So we’d like input from you for determining what things we can use the new forum for.

If there are any features, events, discussions, bots, anything at all you’d like us to use in the new forum, please let us know here in the comments!

Despite all of this, we’re still looking on track for the backer release next week, so get hyped to meet your newest harem girl and go on even more awesome adventures with your favourite harem slaves!

It’s A-Maid-Zing What Good Writing Can Do

So earlier this month, I was dismayed to find that after all this time, some people still treat Violet and Lilac as being basically interchangeable.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Since they were first created very early in the development of Harem Collector, I haven’t added very much new content for the twin maids, other than keeping them updated with group events such as the Manor Invasion and the various rank-up parties.

I had always imagined them to be two very different characters. Violet is the more quiet, responsible, and refined of the two, who takes her duties as a maid seriously. Lilac is more energetic and outgoing, and while she doesn’t skimp on her duties, she doesn’t live for them in the same way Violet does. I even picked out their hairstyles based on this- Violet has a sensible-yet-elegant shoulder-length haircut, while Lilac just pulls her hair back into a ponytail and is off for the day.

But…. if this isn’t getting communicated to players properly, that’s on me. So while we’re technically meandering through the last of Larelle’s hentai content, while also racing for the end of the Demon Cult plotline… I took some time and wrote additional dialogue for Larelle and Violet, as well as a pair of new (text-only, for now) sex scenes that I feel show off different parts of their personalities.

Hopefully this will help make our twin maids a little stronger for Iron Waifu this year! I’ll try to make time to fatten up their content a little more before the release rolls around, but we’re getting down to the wire soon and the newest quest takes precedence, of course.

Only two more weeks until the backer release! Hope to see you then!