So I spent most of Monday working on Fairy Side for MagicWhiteLady. Because we haven’t been able to get together to collab on dialogue and such, MWL is doing all of the game text as I type. But I was able to refine some of MWL’s ideas and made sure that, if nothing else, it’s a thing you can play through. The structure is there, and MWL is bringing the fun.
Also: I changed up my avatar. Wooser likes meat, girls, and money, and so do I. But don’t worry, I still fight for the greater good, Tau-chan has just been moved to my wallpaper. Exciting stuff.
Maybe I should actually talk about my game?
Okay, so I’ve been putting more thought into game balance lately and I’m personally wondering what characters people use, who gets teamed up with whom, stuff like that. I want to have the gameplay be pretty deep… or at least as deep as RPG Maker can get. Even if I can’t hit “deep”, “challenging but rewarding” would be a great secondary. So your feedback is important in this regard. Also, it might go into skills that appear on these characters in the future.
I also want to avoid nerfing the characters if I can. I’d rather maker under-used characters better than take away something that is already good.
So, here is sort of how I envisioned how each character would work.
Pretty basic, glass cannon physical damage.
Strengths: She shoots for high damage, lets off the occasional burst fire. As for her other skills, Stealth keeps the heat off for awhile, Kneecapping will (next update) deal some damage with an evasion penalty for high-evasion enemies, Assassin’s Strike lets you gamble on an insta-death move.
Weaknesses: Enemy tanks with cover and lots of HP kind of ruin her day, since they can soak up multiple Barrage shots. Enemy damagers with multi-target abilities as well.
Future Plans: Right now my rough plan is for her Love Quest to result in an upgraded three-hit Barrage. The individual damage of her pistols will probably come down as I start running numbers and figure out what works for weak damage, and her crit rate will probably get nerfed. Maybe in favour of an “Aiming” self-buff that cancels Stealth but gives more crits.
Yamamaya is a bit more complicated. She should bring to the table less (but still good) damage compared to Elaiya, but in a more robust package. Add in some racial immunities, and she can Rage if the player decides they’ve figured out the enemy boss and she can safely bash away without input.
Strengths: Racial immunities to most “mind”-type effects, highest Health on a damager. Her Techniques gives her some more options- Shockwave causes Thunder element damage and can deafen, while Strong Attack gives her a good go-to attack power when you don’t want her to Rage.
Weaknesses: She also hates enemy tanks, but slightly less than Elaiya because multi-targeting is less important to Yamamaya’s style. Turning on Rage can quickly bite you in the ass if the battle turns south on the player.
Future Plans: Strong Attack will probably get some kind of -Hit, +Damage change in the future and become a “Wild Swing” type ability just to be more flavourful and interesting. In general, I want her to be the “safe” damager with less risk, but less reward.
Kyrie is an uncomplicated nuker mage. She also adds a bit more enemy control- her acid spells cause -Defense and her ice spells will cause -Evasion and -Hit in time. But her power is limited because I want restoring Mana to be pretty expensive in this game.
Strengths: Lots of damage, multi-target spells, some debuffs. Also, Ice Armor stacks with other defense buffs. She can also take some damage to self-buff her Magic.
Weaknesses: Reliance on Mana, almost as weak as Elaiya, and nothing really spammable for mid-dungeon fights.
Future Plans: Getting her in the harem, for one. Despite being one of the first characters designed for the game, she remains elusive. Also, she will get some kind of “acid snow” multi-target ultima-type spell for obscene damage + obscene Mana cost.
For the more discerning, cerebral player, Gargan provides good damage and can also do secondary tanking.
Strengths: Fairly sturdy. Uses Cape Stun and eventually Throw to inflict the Stun effect, and on the following turn can Stun Break* for extra damage and to ignore defense. Coup de Grace allows late-game Gargan to set up an insta-kill on a stunned enemy… if he has enough Momentum. Finally, Counter lets him/her secondary tank while still inflicting damage.
Weaknesses:You actually have to plan and be careful to use Gargan most efficiently. Even still, an enemy immune to Stun (mechanicals, catgirls, etc) will shut him/her right down into a less-efficient tank.
Future Plans: Get him/her in the party after a quest to cure his/her curse with mixed results. Also, decide on a pronoun for him/her and a way to make him/her cool with being a her that doesn’t cause my social justice-oriented friends to riot.
Overall: The Damagers are the least problematic characters in the game- Yamamaya and Elaiya are frequently stated to be top picks and Kyrie and Gargan bring new play styles to the table without being too difficult to understand. They just need tweaks and fixes to get them *just right*.
Being the first additional party member, the tutorial sections pretty much explain how Therese works- Primary tank with secondary healing.
Strengths: Rough and tumble fighter who also heals. Highest Resist of all the tanks, and will be able to self-buff to stretch it even further. Can also use +Defense Prayers, and Stagger gives her a slightly boosted attack with an Agility debuff.
Weaknesses: Martyrdom lacks any of the bell and whistles of the other tank abilities- it just draws threat without benefiting Therese.
Future Plans: Her Lay on Hands is meant to be early game healing, she will eventually get the basic one-target healing Prayer at the same time primary healers get multi-target healing.
Doll is actually an old idea I had back in elementary school for a Final Fantasy class- low damage, but covers and auto-regens.
Strengths: Has innate Health regeneration. Defender of Life buffs her Health Regen while she draws threat. Vine Armour lets her self-buff Defense (and stacks with other Defense buffs), Regeneration lets her offer some low-grade heals, and somebody Shake It Off might do something useful.
Weaknesses: Lowest Attack of all the tanks. Regeneration is less useful in the face of high-damage enemies and is better for low-risk battles you can drag out to benefit from the most healing.
Future Plans: Nothing concrete at the moment, except adding something to Vine Armour to spice it up a little (like Ice Armour also granting Cold Resistance).
Raina is a pretty basic spear-and-board fighter, but has enough interesting twists. Mirrors her brother a little- Gargan is a primary damager, secondary tank who applies a debuffs and then takes it away for bonus damage, while Raina is a primary tank, secondary damager who applies a self-buff then takes it away for bonus damage. If you’re interested in how she works, go check out Fairy Side later today- Conall is functionally identical, except for a slightly different stat priorities.
Strengths: Highest Defense in the game. Has two options for threat-generating self-buffs- Phalanx, which generates threat and buffs Defense, and Deflect, which generates threat and buffs Resist. She can then Shield Bash to attack with her Defense stat before leaving her Phalanx/Deflect state. Shield Rush is functionally similar, except costs more Momentum and has a chance of Knockdown. She can also use Pommel Strike for a boosted attack with chance of Knockdown that doesn’t cause her to leave Phalanx/Deflect.
Weaknesses: Lowest Resist of all the tanks and lacks any healing ability.
Future Plans: Get her in the party and eventually the harem. Raina is slightly more complicated in this regard- she’s going to hang around the manor and join in all the fun adventuring, but won’t join the harem until you can make her love the Hero enough to accept his philandering.
Originally this post was going to cover all the classes, but after seeing how long it is, this is going two-parter. See you next week!
*I just noticed while writing this post that Stun Break does not work as intended, using Gargan’s Magic stat instead of Attack. Will be fixed in next version.
I’ve repeatedly run into a problem with the RPG Maker engine that is causing me to rethink part of Harem Collector’s design and balance. It might result in me changing the way that buffs work entirely.
RPG Maker uses eight basic parameters that you’re probably all familiar with from HC’s status and equip screens. They are:
Max HP (I’ve renamed to “Health” or “<3”)
Max MP (I’ve renamed to “Mana” or “8)”)
Magic Attack (I’ve renamed just “Magic”)
Magic Defense (I’ve renamed to “Resist”)
Most of these seem pretty self-explanatory, but in reality they are severely limited in how they function inside the engine. Attack, Defense, Magic and Resist only do anything because I edit the individual damage formulas of the various skills and attacks- they have no function outside those damage calculations. Which is fine, I have total control over what they do and can easily balance them with respect to one another. Max HP and MP are similar- they only count down how long it takes for a character to die or be unable to cast any spells so I have full control over how they’re used.
The odd ones out are Luck and Agility, and it’s these two stats that cause me no end of balance related grief. Agility determines initiative within combat rounds, the likelihood of escape in combat (which I don’t use) and the likelihood of being surprised/having a preemptive attack (which are only calculated in random battles, which I also don’t use). Not exactly the kind of thing battles are won on. Luck is even weaker, only being used to resist debuffs and added states. A high Luck can even be undesirable in this regard- it adds a resistance chance to all states, including Martyrdom, Stealth, the various Rages, Resistance Bonuses, and positive states from items such as Sugar Rush and the elemental weapon bonuses from things like Contact Poison and Alchemist’s Fire.
This leaves me with something of a conundrum. For example, why would you ever cast a Cold spell if you had any other option, elemental weakness notwithstanding, if all the added Agility debuff does is make a given enemy act last in a round?
I’ve tried to address the weakness of Luck by adding a damage bonus equal to the attacker’s luck to all attack damage formulas, but that doesn’t seem quite enough. What I’d like to do is tie some of the game’s ex- and sp- parameters into your Luck and Agility, specifically granting extra critical chance and critical evasion to Luck and extra hit rate and evasion rate to Agility, but I have no idea how to begin doing that. Help in this regard would be appreciated.
Anyway, just wanted to rant about a problem I have with the engine- and something you should be aware of if you’re going to use RPG Maker yourself.
Quick update on the game: I haven’t actually been able to do all that much work on it. Between crunch time at school, a full time job, Bioshock Infinite, and a wicked head cold, I’ve lost about a week of work. I still want to do a release in time for 4/17.
One of the things that has bogged me down- name changes. I changed Amelia’s name to Meline, simply because a lot of people were confusing her and Alina. The names were just too similar. The other name change was in the names of the towns- I was not happy with the weird names and the gag of “Hey, all the towns sound like h-game companies!” wasn’t worth keeping around.
So, this week’s topic: Player Psychographics! I wanted to elaborate on something I posted to the HentaiHighSchool forums.
What is a psychographic? Well, in as simple a way as possible, it’s a way of dividing players by what they like to experience in a game, boiled down to the very basics. It’s not enough to say “immersive visuals” or “engaging gameplay”, because you really want to get into a player’s head- what visual elements help this player become immersed in the game or what gameplay elements does this player find engaging are what you want to find out with a psychographic analysis.
Final boss blues has an article on the same topic, which takes the “Timmy, Johnny, Spike” psychographics from Magic: the Gathering and applies it to the game world. But, there are another set of psychographics that are specifically applied to video games, using the four suits of cards.
“Heart” players are tuned into the emotional side of games. These are the players who get into games for the story, the connection to the game’s characters, and the feel of the game’s setting. Traditionally, Heart-types were almost always RPG players, but as technology improves and the games increase their ability to add emotional depth without relying solely on dialogue, the Heart-type has expanded into other genres. If you’re a Heart-type player, you probably enjoy games like Mass Effect 2, Silent Hill 2, and Spec Ops: The Line.
I court the Heart-type player by trying to make the various characters interesting, that you want to find out more about them and want to advance down their relationship tracks. There is more to every harem girl than meets the eye, and your reward for patience and diligence in romancing them is a “day in the spotlight” style quest which goes deeper into their story.
“Club” players want a challenge. These guys are stereotypically the FPSers, twitch gamers who like bullet hell shooters or ridiculous classic-style platformers. But, of course there are different kinds of challenge, and in RPGs this comes down to the dungeon exploration followed by boss fight structure. If you’re a Club-type player, chances are you’d enjoy things like Super Meat Boy, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, or Castle Shikigami 2.
This is why I try really hard to make the boss fights in HC challenging. It’s hard to hit that sweet spot where things are “challenging” without being “frustrating”, but I try to take something the
Extra Credits crew said once to heart. RPG boss battles are, fundamentally, puzzles, where the solution is usually “figure out how to do x damage to the bad guy before the bad guy does y damage to you”. I try to work that into every boss fight, which is why the Gang Leader’s max hp was dropped in the last release- by the time his two buddies are dead, you’ve basically got the fight figured out and just need to whittle him down, but he had so much hp that it took quite some time to finally get the fight over with even once he’s effectively finished.
“Spade” players want to explore the game mechanics and figure things out. They enjoy not only puzzle games, but any game where strategy is an element. Bioshock is probably the best example of a strategy-oriented Spade game I can think of- you have a number of different powers and weapons, and while some are straightforward (antipersonnel ammo is for splicers, armor piercing ammo for Big Daddies and turrets) some aren’t. It’s up for the player to evaluate the situation, and decide what to employ- maybe there’s an oil slick you can ignite with Incinerate! or a pool of water to amplify your Electroshock. There are other ways of encouraging Spades too, like Sengoku Rance which can open new tactics and scenes to you depending on who you have on side and what order you capture enemy countries in.
Spade-types also appreciate the puzzle-solving aspects of boss battles, but that’s not all I do to appeal to Spades. Some of you who were feeling experimental, might have noticed that tripping on shrooms also lets you regenerate Mana, or that being drunk gives your basic attacks a chance to stun. There are situations where losing control of your character might be worth these benefits. That’s the reason why there’s a multitude of items in the game, to let Spade-types explore and see if they can find a use for their stack of fifteen Slime Fluids or to find out exactly what the limits of the Contained Singularity are.
“Diamond”-type players like to collect stuff. And if there is an in-game purpose to collecting all that stuff, well, then that’s icing. Obviously, games like Pokemon appeal to Diamonds, but any game that features regions to explore and collectibles to earn- games like Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas– hold appeal for Diamonds.
Of course, in a game that’s about collecting women for a harem it’s pretty easy to implement Diamond-oriented stuff. But that’s not the only thing I’m doing. There are businesses to invest in, quests to find, and crafting materials to upgrade your weapons with. Finding all 151 harem girls will require you to do a fair bit of exploring. Finding every scene, dungeon, quest, item and place will require you to look behind every rock and talk to every person and… well, that would be telling.
Anyway, I’ll keep you updated as always. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this little lecture.
That’s right friends- the big news or next update is that there will be actual porn in the game. I’ve found a solution that I’m satisfied with, and there may be new h content as early as the April release. I’m going to be using a third party 3-d engine to do poses and models. Of course, that depends on a few things- among them my ability to alter existing models while keeping attractive faces, and another being my ability to match clothes and other characteristics to the sprites used in game. We’ll see how it goes, and details will be forthcoming as they are available.
However, this does mean I’ll probably have to abandon Mediafire as a hosting service. If anyone can provide suggestions as to a hosting service that doesn’t mind adult material, please do so.
However the bad news is that might be the only significant change for the April update. Fixing the aesthetics of play is hard, going through each and every event to check sound effects, change sprite movement speeds for cutscenes, deal with message positions…. Because of this and various other things, the next update might just be a general “polishing up” of the game, with the new h scenes, but we’ll see.
As always, stay tuned for more information.