Persona 4 Fangame? Oh right, that.

Hey, I totally still visit this site. Quite a bit has changed since the last...two years I did a status check. Namely that I've now got a late night job that pays very well, my journalistic adventures have taken me to now working for Sonic Retro, and of course, that Persona 4 fan game I was working on.

It's...going, to say the least. But after looking over what my future may bring me to, I decided that the game would likely benefit better using 3D space and would help me learn about how games are made in 3D. So for the past year or so, I decided to cease working on the game in Multimedia Fusion 2 and learn about how to use Unity 3D and finally take a more serious look at programming. While Javascript probably isn't the most efficient form of coding anyone can look into, it certainly helps from a beginner standpoint. After several attempts at experimenting with how the object hierarchy works within Unity, I eventually decided to take my idea for that Persona 4 game I was working on that would grant me the ability for a deeper experience. No longer would players be confined to single screen rooms, no more object limits or having to awkwardly thumb through script code. You can see what all I had in mind for the game in a previous blog post in terms of design, but here I'm going to show what I've been able to do by making the jump to a more advanced game design suite. To give an illusion, I went from this to this:

Of course, I'm no 3D modeler or an artist, and I don't have anyone to work with, so randomly stolen placeholder models will have to suffice for now. The role of the protagonist and his partner will be played by Rayman and Rayman. You may recall that I was working on the idea of adding a second player to the mix, which is why there's a second Rayman in the first place.

Besides that however, now that I have 3D working space, I can take advantage of a more cinematic presentation. So not only does the camera follow the two players, it will center it's position between the two to ensure both players can see whats going on screen at the same time.

The camera can't go past this structure as both players run through this walkway, which can showcase potentially visually impressive environments. It'd be great to have it look something similar to what was seen in Persona 4 the Animation here.

In order to prevent players from wandering off too far, there are several hidden objects that prevent players from progressing until both have arrived at certain triggers to allow both to advance to the next area.

Of course, one of the big things about the project that I had to bring over from my old MMF2 project is the Action Ring. Luckily, it wasn't as much of a challenge to bring over as I had thought.

After experimenting with how grouping pieces of a model together, it allowed me to create the action ring in 3D space without sacrificing the detail I wanted, which involved having a "background" piece to the ring to ensure objects and people stand out. In addition, it always faces the main camera to ensure that you don't see how it actually looks.

The user interface is being created by placing objects in 3D space and having a separate camera view the material. Many games in the late 90's and most of 2000-2006 or so had HUD and UI displays by utilizing 3D space. While Unity has a GUI interface, I haven't really figured out how to get it to scale when playing the game at different resolutions. It's a cheat, but it works for the most part, until you see the material clip through other 3D geometry.

Sadly, there is still no game to speak of, and tackling an adventure game is not an easy task for an individual. I may end up dropping the Persona 4 aspect of the game and gather up a team to make a new game. The idea of having an adventure game with an easy interface that can be played with another person in the room sounds very exciting, of course, the project as it stands is only going along slowly, having to recreate assets in an entirely different game engine is no easy task, especially since I've had very little experience creating a game from a coding structure I'm barely familiar with, let alone designing an adventure game.

Perhaps I'm biting off more than I can chew, since I would probably benefit making smaller games before tackling something as ambitious as this project. But my interest doesn't lie in smaller, casual hits, and at the same time, I enjoy what I do, even if it doesn't really go anywhere, it's good practice, and good fun.

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Ranting about Project M.

 I have to put this up on front. I hate to play a game in a tournament setting. The pressure amongst your peers and the surrounding audience is pretty overwhelming. Despite there being one winner emerging from a match, do all the opponents try their best to hide their poor sportsmanship? Does the person you’re going up against know the ins and outs of the game because he’s spent every living moment learning the intricacies of the game’s mechanics and flaws? I have a hard time imagining that game developers really think twice about any of this. Not until they get around to working on those hotly anticipated sequels that guarantee to bring the consumer more of the same while fixing some of the issues presented.

You may have heard of the community behind Super Smash Bros. and the surfacing of Project M. A project that is supposed to unify all three versions of Super Smash Bros. in one package giving you the most characters, the most levels, and the most features that is easily accessible to everybody through an SD card, an impressive technical feat. So why do I not care for this mod? Why do I feel a bit of a hostile attitude coming from the people behind the Smash Bros. community who are adamant about why Melee is a better game compared to Brawl? Honestly, Brawl has everything from Melee I could want while fixing some of the minor annoyances I’ve had with Melee while introducing some very nice additions.

Super Smash Bros. Melee got me out of competitive play, so it may not come as a surprise that my interests in Project M are low. But anybody who questions the existence of this brilliant piece of work is told to ignore it and move on with life. It’s a little hard to ignore, considering that the purpose and the message of the project is to correct those changes that were made in the sequel.  The team behind Project M seems to be sending mixed messages of “Hey, we’re not here to change the way you play the game, but we’re going to be bringing a technical balance that was missing from this trainwreck.” This mod in question only serves the purpose of “This is how we think the game should play, and how it should be done.” But what are they basing these views on? The people behind the project are people who’ve had quite a history in tournament play. To go from Melee’s brisk, broken mechanics to Brawl’s slower paced, unpredictable tripping seems like a rude awakening to the Melee savant.  People who are used to the imperfections of Melee’s gameplay can be thrown off by the changes that were made in Brawl. Several die hard Smash Bros. community members have already exclaimed their disgust of the changes in their perfect world and have made several efforts to get it back while taking the additions introduced to Brawl in their own, clumsy way. Without a doubt though, the effort being put behind Project M is technically impressive, but to the average consumer, the Wii audience, your girlfriend/spouse, basically to the person who does not have the time due to other interests or life in general, these changes will go by unnoticed. The lead programmer behind the project expressed his desire to become a game designer in the recent episode of “Show Me Your News” they were featured in. (That you can find on their website.) I can’t help but feel that he would be a person I would never want to work with on a project. After all, one of the goals of Project M is to take away some of the accessibility introduced into Brawl for people who have a harder time playing video games. It reminds me of John Romero’s Daikatana that deliberately punishes players for getting the rug swept from beneath them with irregular difficulty balances and vague objectives that gives the player a bad vibe by telling them they can’t handle the way the game plays, they’re not very good at video games and should just stop. Nintendo has had pretty good success in lowering the bar of accessibility for people who don’t play games very often. To see that they’re adamantly taking away certain functions from Brawl for the sake of tournament play is only catering to the audience that would care for these sorts of things. Is the reason because the player needs to “Use more skill,” or are they trying to keep the bar high so that people with less experience can match them on their own level? This whole project is only catering to one type of audience, the one audience that can only accept things if certain conditions are met. They may not be willing to put out the cash for it, but all Nintendo needs to do is cater to a new audience, and suddenly that one gap that   would’ve made a dent in their profits has been filled up with…even more money. It’s like nothing happened at all.

I plan to go further into detail about my issues I have with the project and the people behind this mod. I could easily just move along and let them have their fun, but when these people look into getting a position somewhere in the video game industry, I can’t help but point out some of the flaws based in their message they are delivering with their efforts.

Of course, this whole piece is more or less an advertisement of the existence of the mod, and at the time of this writing, they’ve put out a demo that you can try out right now! I’ll further sweeten the deal for both you and the people behind the mod by providing a handy link to their website right here

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Busy Busy Busy...

After choosing to take a break from college to evaluate my position on where to go at this point of my life, I've still managed to keep myself quite busy for the time being. Despite the fact that the amount of projects I've taken up has caused me to socially wall myself from the outside world, caused my father to worry and cause a dent in his insurance plan, taken up a lot of my free time, but its all in good fun. Whether its fits of depression or resume building, you decide! This decision kind of helped me break my mold and attend to some of my talents.
 
Heres just a few things that I've been working on lately 
 
PODiMOUTH.com 
Alright, so I'm sure a number of you are ready to turn your nose up against podcasts, let alone video game centric ones. I aim to try to be as informative as I possibly can in both the podcast episodes and the articles I write. I also hope to someday cover independent game developers to a T since the aim of the website is independent development. PODiMOUTH started last year as a news front for local Katy/Houston, Texas indie bands. In addition, each episode contains music from said bands as well. To this day even, as the website has expanded to other forms of media to cover. Since it was being run by an old friend of mine, and I was recommended by another friend of mine, I was a shoe in for the website. I've actually been interested in becoming a journalist for years, however without any other connections nor the desire to start a personal blog that nobody would read (Such as this one, but hey...) I've had no desire to write outside of my high school newspaper class. PODiMOUTH however is officially classified as an official journalism entity.. Which means I can take advantage of the fact that I can go into conventions, press events (Provided certain expenses and other complications are taken care of) and gain access to other press privileges. Admittably, we're kind of learning about the ins and outs of video game coverage, but I promise (Along with my colleagues of course) to do the best we can do. We're open to suggestions for the website, review requests and listen to any feedback you guys have. 
 
In the meantime, my reviews on the site will find their way onto Giant Bomb, but any articles I write in the future will only be found on PODiMOUTH.com. Be sure to give your feedback on them since I havent received any opinions on them so far. Also be sure to check out Bit-Tronic, which I happen to be a co-host on with Ra-Ra as we comment on all things happening on video games, movies and more.You'll find the latest episode here. It also features music played by the local bands, and they're some pretty fine folks too. Very talented and free to listen to.  
 
Also, click those ads! Gives me some nice pocket money that I could make use out of.  

Sonic Cyclone 
Perhaps you've heard of InstantSonic. Very talented amateur musician, artist and voice actor. You might remember him from some hit radio plays including Sonic and the Death Cheese 1 and 2. If you havent heard them, you should stop reading this blog and check them out. You cant say this post hasn't shown you anything entertaining at this point.  
Anyway, hes been working on a SHMUP featuring the blue hog himself, however the game will feature all original animation, an original soundtrack and a fusion of classic Sonic and shoot-em-up gameplay as Sonic flies through environments fighting uniquely designed badniks. I'd provide a screen or two about the game, however I cant acquire anything from the game on this machine. I'll probably sneak one into the comments eventually. 
 
C++ Programming 
After years of working with Multimedia Fusion and briefly learning the basics of Java and forgetting them, seems like a good time as any  to learn an actual programming language, right? While C++ isnt really used for game development, its still a decent step forward for learning something that can be applied to other job fields. I've been hitting up a book "Sams Teach Yourself C++" and already a few concepts felt pretty familiar. The only issue I'm coming across is that I'm not really taking advantage of any of the exercises or attempting to build a program from scratch. I'll figure that out eventually though. I'm up to establishing classes and deconstructing integers and objects.  
 
Scott Pilgrim the Radio Play/Persona 4 Simulacrum Radio Play   
 
Voice talent? What? Me? I guess. People said they like the sound of my voice, so lets see where this takes me.

Theres plenty of other things I've been working on, however I'm running out of time for writing this (and I'm not going to correct any errors) and its getting late. I've also been working more hours at work, despite the fact that I'm still only earning $7.50 for a job thats going nowhere. But its still money. I intend to use it when I get back into college as a part time student, for the time being anyway. Anyway, I'll keep you guys informed on my things going on when I find the time. For now though, I've gotta get ready for bed. 

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I've wasted my summer to work on a...Persona 4 fangame?

I’m just going to go straight to the point, I want to work on a Persona 4 fangame. With the appreciation for all the fan made content, I thought I’d introduce to you guys a pet project I’ve been fostering for some time now. I really love Persona 4, and lately I've been on a Adventure game kick thanks to titles like Sam and Max and Monkey Island. Since the social element is probably the one part of Persona 4 I've had the most fun with, a Persona 4 Adventure Game sounds like the way to go. (Or it could be a disaster) The game would take place during the last few month’s of the Protagonist’s time in Inaba, sharing RPG elements and emphasizing the interaction between characters. Shadows have been discovered in the real world, and you have to go and confront them, but neither side is exactly attacking each other, rather the Investigation team will ‘negotiate’ with the parallels of the citizens of the town (Within the immediate area of course) to restore order in an episodic series.

Normally, I would’ve made this post showcasing the features that the game has going for it, along with all the pretty graphics, maybe the soundtrack and give a definite release date. Unfortunately I cant really do such a thing when the game is in this state:

 Ohh! My eyes!

Hopefully you havent been turned off by the game at this point, but sadly, this is about 2-4 months of work compromised of concept art, as well as my interpretation of the characters. The Protagonist there looks okay, but I know for a fact that others can surpass my art capabilities for sure. I need artists. Not the best way to say “Hey, I’m ‘hiring’ for a non-paying job!” but its gotta come out at some point, and really the only reason why this blog post is here, other than letting people know what I’ve been up to.

But I dont intend for there to be a lot of work. A lot of inspiration for making this comes from, obviously enough, the episodic Adventure game business mentality from Telltale Games, along with the wealth of Adventure games that a lot of the guys behind Telltale are known for. Content will be reused, episodes will be long enough to keep you interested and more episodes will come out on time.

So you might be wondering (Or probably missed it, its in the first paragraph) why or how is this game episodic? The idea here is to put out content for people to play in a short amount of time. You’ll visit other locations, but certain content like characters would be reused in order to cut down on development time. If an episode can last about 2 to 3 hours, thats about 8-12 hours total (If the game can last four episodes. See? 4 game in the series gets 4 episodes. Huh? Huh?)

Sadly, I’ve still got to tackle the big “Negotiation” part of the game as I’ve been busy with the other elements of the game. Since this is going to be an adventure game, you’ll be talking and interacting with the objects and characters in the game. You wont be dealing with non playable characters that provide only one line of dialogue. You need to talk to people, look for clues to find other people and other shadows. Which is why you’ll be using this:



The Action Ring provides four context sensitive commands that you can do with everything (That you can interact with) in the game. You can use or pick up items with the top command, examine the item with the left command, talk with the person (or object) with the bottom command, or use an item with the right command.


 One thing I'd like to avoid is being too self referential.

Oh hey, you talk to people to. Actually this is just to show that I’m intending on bringing the graphics user interface from Persona 4 in this game so that this can feel as much as a sequel as this game can possibly be. You’ll also notice on the right hand side of the screen is actually an unfinished element. Its actually material for a second player. Now how is a second player supposed to work in an adventure game? I dont want to reveal too much, but what inspired me to add this is how developers are adding in a second player to games made for a Single Player (Such as the recent Sin and Punishment and both Super Mario Galaxy games) but the second player didnt play as a character, just a helper. What I do like is that the other player is interacting with the game, maybe not as involved in the game as the other player, but the second player wasnt given too many commands that would be too cumbersome for them to understand, and their inactivity did not cause a negative outcome of the gameplay. (At the very least, the second player can’t cause griefing.) It will fit nicely into an adventure game setup, although I intend for the second player to take control of another character and can easily drop in or out at any time.

I may be making a big deal out of nothing, but this project has already sapped out a lot of my spare time, and if I cant generate any interest or any help, this might not be going anywhere, and it’d be a real shame too. I’m getting a lot of good ideas going for this game, and a lot of it sounds like it’ll work out pretty well in the end, and more importantly, we get to see the Investigation Team some more. So let me close this blog post with some of the goals for this game.

  • Provide an incentive to drive people to check out Persona 4
  • An engaging story spanning four episodes
  • Quickly provide content in a short timespan by reusing sprites and some backgrounds
  • Beautiful 2D artwork and animation
  • Successfully combine the story, characters and setting of Persona 4 in an Adventure game setup
  • Feature a unique drop-in/drop-out 2 player co-operative mode
  • Use and borrow elements from the Persona series for an Adventure/RPG hybrid.
  • Full voice overs and (Hopefully) new music.

If you do have any ideas for the game, you're more than welcome to throw them here.Let me know what you guys think, and if something isnt explained very well, I'll do what I can to clarify them. I'm hastily wrapping up this post, and I hope I'm not breaking any rules on the site by posting this...
 
At the very least, the game engine should be the basis for a game based off the Endurance Run. Make it a community project or something. Charlie explores the Whiskey Media offices to uncover the copy of Persona 4, along with the memory card to start the Endurance Run all over again! Actually this is probably kinda dumb. Especially since this idea is actually kind of old and outdated.
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A Massive Game Library, So Little Time

Man, I dont even remember what I wrote in that last blog post, but I'm positive it was not worth any time reading any of it.

But today, I'd like to express something that I feel would be universal to many who buy a mass amount of games and have no time for them. Its hard to try and keep up with all the latest titles that come out, along with games that passed by and your friend recommended it to you, or it was all the net rage and people on message boards agree in unison that everybody should own it. If you buy X certain game or you dont own this Y game you're labeled as some kind of horrible person. You were able to shell out all this cash for this one game, but you missed this really great one, and your mother hates you for it.

Its starting to become a tough industry for just anyone to come out with a great game for everyone to check out. They have to fight other publishers to attract consumers into buying their product. It may even be coming to a point where people feel as if the up and coming games dont match their expectations. Like Mario Kart for example, Mario Kart Wii did everything to try and make the game friendlier to a broader audience, which caused the developers to change the rules. But people still prefer just sticking with the Super NES or Nintendo 64 versions so the player can have something familiar to them. They may also be times where the developer changes the rules so much that they were better off owning the previous version. Not every person who played the original version of Team Fortress went over to Team Fortress 2. Some complaints that the game was made too simple, or they dont agree with other aspects of the game, such as the graphics, or the fact the game is constantly changing with the class updates. Some even feel that games lose all value once the next generation of consoles come up.

After a few years of being a console fanboy, I learned that any developer appreciates your business. You could probably imagine that I was heavily aligned with Nintendo. To see games on other platforms and not the console you chose is disappointing. But they probably had a better chance on that system (Like Klonoa 2 on Playstation 2) because of the wider install base that could see a home for a title thats already having a hard time standing out. They could probably had put Klonoa 2 on Gamecube, but could they afford it? All the advertising, development just to sell a measly 5,000 copies in the first month is not exactly breaking the bank.

Now that its been years later, I've been able to earn my own money, meaning I could buy anything I want when I want to. But now the industry is larger, maybe not neccesarily stronger. Theres still difficulty getting niche games to see a decent return. However I've noticed that indie developers have seen a significant rise with the arrival of digital distribution. But the real difficulty is that the amout of games coming out are starting to grow substantially. You may even find difficulty looking for a specific game due to low distribution. At worst, you'll have to spend double the amount of the actual MSRP in the aftermarkets such as eBay just to find a copy of the game.

A problem I have in keeping up with games is that I have to dedicate time to other things. In some cases, a 5 hour game may be just the right length to accomodate for a hectic life schedule. Or maybe the other thing taking up time is...other games. I dont expect to play a multitude of RPGs, especially if they tout that they last over 100 hours just to complete. RPGs are probably my worst genre. I mean, I recently picked up Persona 4, and I greatly look forward to it. But I'm only 13 hours into Persona 3, nowhere near the end. I could play both at the same time, but theres still other RPGs I have to play through. Like Skies of Arcadia. But with all games, sometimes I run across a point in the game where I just dont feel like getting past a certain part. Or scouring the game world to collect a handful of items that grant you the ability to move onto the next part of the game.

I dont think this post is quite going anywhere, but it does hurt when certain games arent successful on the market. Or even when you want to make room for games that fit into both your time and budget.  Everyone is bound to miss certain games. I'm trying to do my darndest at picking up some of the best games that dont receive the most attention. But if I miss a couple of things, dont blame me too much if I'm just waiting for a price drop down the line.

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Making Room for Work

So here I am, I've finished up another semester of college and I'm ready to start getting to work. Now, a lot of you dont really know me. Lets just put it this way; I want to get into making video games. The only real experience I've had was mucking around with some small ideas. Kind of half-assed and put together very oddly. The unfortunate thing about all this is, my first plan was to become a programmer. However with a lack of ability to do complicated math formulas and it took me several semesters to get a 'C' grade in a Texas Jr. College, I might as well as give up on that. So my only means of 'programming' are easy-to-create game programs such as Click Team's Multimedia Fusion. Now I'm trying to come up with ideas for a new game using Macromedia Flash. Part of the reason being is that its cross platform, the other being rather personal I'll probably get into if this blog thing works out for me.

So anyway, I'm pretty distracted sitting in my room for quite some time. Partially because I'm bored. Plus thats where I've been sitting for the past several months toiling away at homework among other things. Not to mention, my room also has all of this:


Thats a lot of game systems Sega's last two game consoles along with a newly acquired Playstation 2, my Wii, Xbox 360 and a DVD player I dont use that much. Plus off to the right off-camera is my dual core processor PC that I usually use for games like Team Fortress 2. I figured out a good way to help concentrate more on my little game project.


So my dad acquired from one of his friends a Pentium 4 they were getting rid of. Pretty lucky deal if you ask me. The problem was that there was really no place to put it. Until we started clearing out the back bedroom. Its mostly cleaned up, theres a few things we need to either move or get rid of. Long story short, I decided to turn it into an office, plus all the stuff I couldnt fit in my room.

It almost seems as if it defeats the purpose, but things have to go somewhere. Its all of my game systems that couldnt quite fit in my bedroom. Theres also a bookshelf thats actually full of books. Some of them strategy guides, some of them left-over cook books that was dug up as me and my dad were clearing out the room and some comic book compilations such as "Sam and Max: Surfin' the Highway." I intend to use that shelf as a way to take a break from staring at montiors and televisions all day.

Anyway, back to my computer set up. I've got scores of paper, a clipboard, several notebooks and more to help jump start the planning phase of my next game. Although I've already started drawing up some graphics for the game for the fun of it, because having ideas on a piece of paper is nowhere near as fun as helping yourself get a better visualization on what the game should look like.

Its getting late, and this blog may not be so interesting, but I'm hoping I can keep this updated to try and generate some interest. I've got other things I'd like to talk about. Such as the stack of boxes that are sitting on my desk in my bedroom. So until next time...



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