When in Rome

•September 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So I’ve been watching new drama The Borgias on Sky Atlantic and I have to say, so far I’m impressed. The series centers around Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons), who in the first episode bribes his way to becoming Pope.  Anyone thinking of accusing me of dishing out spoilers don’t fret. The entire story is about Rodrigo being the pope and how he and his family struggle to keep their new power. Now as I get cynical in my old age I like to pick things apart for being unrealistic. Not The Borigas. It is a perfect depiction of how treacherous life was for a man in Renaissance Italy, whether he be noble or peasant. And it’s got its facts right (or at least what I know of them), from the things that are important to the story (such as the fact that Cesare is in love with his sister and vice versa and not in the family sort of way) to trivial facts that make little difference to the overall outcome (when discussing the great Leonardo Da Vinci’s portraits, a painter says that ‘he rarely finishes’ – Da Vinci was a chronic procrastinator).

The characters, too, mostly match my knowledge of important Renaissance figures, from Niccolo Machiavelli, to Duke Orsini, to the Sforza name. Even Cesare’s assassin, Michaletto is a name I am familiar with. (Thank you Assassin’s Creed for teaching me about the Renaissance)

And you can’t help but like the Borgias. I know that Cesare will grow into a piece of work and that Lucrezia might not stay so adorably innocent for very long, and even that Rodrigo is a lying, cheating, bully, but they are human and you can understand why each one does what they do. It’s the people that aren’t the Borgias that you start to hate. There are some, like Giovanni Sforza (played by Ronan Vibert – nice guy) whom you would rather like to stab violently and cut off a certain area of his anatomy. But I’m digressing and/or ranting.

However, this is not for the sex shy or the faint hearted. There isn’t as much sex and nudity as you might think, but it is violent and sometimes a bit gory. Now I’m totally fine with gore, I learnt all about pheasant’s organs before I even went to school and not from diagrams (to explain and not sound like a pheasant murdering psycho child, my Great Uncle used to shoot game birds and my granddad would prepare them for him and I used to watch while he…well gutted them and then I would ask questions. It was educational and even back then, we didn’t have any daft namby pamby rules that said I shouldn’t be looking at stuff like that. I’m digressing again). Anyway, gore is not a problem for me, but even I was put off by a scene in which corpses had been stuffed and arranged around a table to mimic the last supper of Christ (you think Saw was bad? Pft, I could eat watching that, but not during said scene).

So if you want to watch something historical that’s also fun and you’re not put off by sex and violence (sometimes together unfortunately) then watch The Borgias, Saturday at 9.00 on Sky Atlantic. I’m giving it 8/10 simply because I hate Giovanni Sforza that much.

When Demons Walk – Yeah, again.

•July 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

353 AB – Creation Day (ante bellum – before war)
The world is inhabited by a supposedly immortal race known collectively as the Deorum, but their immortality breeds boredom. Their leader, a man named Asgard, searched for the means to create something to bring entertainment to him and his people. What he found was the means to create life itself. And so he created two races; the humans and the demons. The humans were almost perfect replicas of the deorum themselves and they were showered with love and adoration from Asgard and his fellows. But the demons were imperfect; merely grotesque monsters in the eyes of their creator and they wept in shame.
0 AB – 1 PB – The Cleansing (post bellum – after war)
Unable to take the neglect any longer, the demons ceased their weeping and cursed Asgard for the life he had so wantonly given them and the centuries of neglect that had followed. They gathered a small army, armed with little more than farming tools and surrounded Asgard’s palace, demanding that they speak with him.
Asgard met with them and apologised for his wanton ways. He then took his blade in hand and struck down the nearest demon.” It is high time I corrected my grievous mistake.” Those were his words. By nightfall not a single demon at that gathering was left alive. Asgard sent out his armies to eradicate the demons, his mistake, but the demons refused to die quietly. They spilled their share of deorum blood, but they were no match for Asgard’s armies.
The demons’ leader, Kefra, approached Asgard under a flag of truce, begging him to end the slaughter. And Asgard replied by slitting his throat. After five years, Asgard finally called a halt to the slaughter, though none but him know why. He rounded up the remaining demons, opened a gate to the Nether Realm and cast them into its dark void.
And there they will remain for all eternity, or so Asgard believed…

 

Prophecy speaks of a day, not far from now, when the gates to the Nether Realm will be opened and the land of Asgard (named after the High God) will fall into despair. Brother Calik van Heiss has no desire to let this happen. In fact, he would rather exterminate the demons himself, especially the one attached to his soul which was responsible for his father’s death. But someone else has a very different idea about the fate of the demons. Someone has a very dark purpose in mind and they need Calik’s demon-tainted soul in order carry out their plans. But Calik escapes, and with the help of some unlikely allies he must find a way to exorcise his demon and put a stop the dark plans of a madman. However, things are not as they seem and Calik will be forced to accept that his own personal vendetta is just a meaningless distraction from the truth about his world.

ATTENTION!
This game is suitable for peoples of thirteen and over.
Contains: violence, infrequent use of stong language, crude humour, suggestive themes and mild horror.

Calik van Heiss
Age: 35
Occupation: Acolyte
Class: Priest
Weapon Style: Bow
The son of a fallen noble house from western Asgard, Calik now lives as an acolyte in a monastery under the Order of Salos. Fuelled by a burning desire for bloody vengeance, he can sometimes lose his temper where demons are concerned, though in general he is a friendly and helpful individual.
Fun Quote: Shouting isn’t going to help, he’s mute, not hard of hearing.

Ark Welkand
Age: 37
Occupation: Treasure Hunter
Class: Bandit
Weapon Style: Dual Weapons
No stranger to the life of a nomad, Ark travels the land in search of treasure. He is an accomplished tomb raider, though he started out as a thief in Shamara (a desert island south of Asgard) at a young age. He’s never afraid to speak his mind even if it makes him sound crude or often rude and he’s very argumentative especially with Benedict.
Fun Quote: It’s not the smiles on people’s faces that makes me happy, it’s the reward.


Benedict Giles
Age: 64
Occupation: Ex-Butler/ Conman
Class: Shape Shifter
Weapon Style: Firearms
Once a respected Butler, Benedict fell from grace following the tragic death of the family he served. Blaming himself for their deaths, he locked himself away in the family mansion and went mad with grief. He’s very sweet and unquestionably loyal, though he has the tendency to briefly return to his wallowing ways.
Fun Quote: I’m not mad, I’m just a man who sometimes masquerades as a cat.


Ellin Barnaby
Age: 32
Occupation: Housewife
Class: Witch
Weapon Style: Staffs
The young wife of an elderly nobleman, Ellin is no stranger to luxury and demands the finer things in life. But she harbours a terrible secret, one that could sign her death warrant. She’s a witch. Though she may act spoilt at times, she hides a vulnerable side beneath her hard and very flirty exterior.
Fun Quote: Just stop right there, honey, I am way out of your league.


-Quests
-Duelling
-Fishing, Mining, Woodcutting and more.
-Special Equipment
-Old Joe’s Equipment Vendor
-Battle Pets
-Hidden Characters
-Secret Areas and Bosses
-Overdrives using special Demon Powers
-Arena mini-game

For screenshots please follow this link to the RRR Forums.

Righty dokey. The shiny new demo can be downloaded here. Now contains 100% fewer bugs (not an actual percentage).


Graphics
Dark Horseman
Avadan
Famitsu
Usui.moo
Aweryn
Buttler
Alt_Jack
Jalen
Matsuo
Enterbrain

Scripts currently in use
OriginalWij – Named Save File
Woratana – On-Screen Shop, Auto Back-Up, Icon Preview Index, Restore On Lvl Up
Yanfly – Victory Aftermath
SowS – Bag Pockets
wltr3565 – Walking Menu Sprites
Modern Algebra – Quest Journal, Advanced Text System
Dorkfr3sh – Player Location
KGC – Overdrive System, Custom Menu Command
Aindra – Custom Lists &Pages
BulletXt – Thomas Edison VX
LordHeinrich – Sell Item Overhaul

Music
Ludovico
Carsten Jessen aka Da Buzz
tidequsto
TY
Christopher White

Feedback, suggestions and critique are always welcome.
P.S. I know I’m not a very good mapper, but I’m working on improvements and plan a total revamp of Kasbur Town and other areas.

A new working demo and some resources

•July 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hiya guys. Ahem, right, I won’t be going for that opening again. As anyone who reads this blog may know, I’ve recently been making a game on RPG Maker VX. In my last post I uploaded a demo. Well, that demo is going bye byes now and I’m uploading a shiny new one here. Thing is, it had some bugs and it didn’t work in some places and it was crappy. I also lost a ton of data to file corruption so I had to remake bits, though as Sophie pointed out it allowed me to improve some of the crappy things that got lost (but I still lost the most beautiful maps I had ever made – I suck at maps). Anywho, it is shiny and it’s got some new things in it such as an awesome new opening sequence (awesome in my opinion) and it also works :).

So here is mine link to this shiny new demo: Demo

And for any VX users out there I hereby present you with some shiny RTP edits/recolours that I made (comes with matching sprite 😀 )

Terms of Use: These are available for use in your games provided proper credit is given (credit Quackadoos). Also, the second face also requires credit to Jalen. The eyepatched sprite requires credit to Famitsu.

A Little Project – Game Building made relatively easy.

•July 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Recently I sat down on the old RPG Maker VX and started making a new game. I’d tried to make games before (starting with the game version of Across the Wall) but they failed because I had little to no understanding of the tools used to make the games. That and they were kinda crappy. This new game (titled Dwarf in the Flask, Homunculus) spanned a grand total of twenty seconds. FAIL.

But, (and there’s a big but now) after turning away from my screen in disgust and leaving it be I had the sudden urge to go back and make something good. Now the general basis of game making is similar to that of writing. You have to have a plan first. Well I’d had plans before, loose plans, but plans all the same and look where they got me. So I thought screw it, I’m making it up as I go along! (Not so different from my writing technique).

And hey presto, it worked. I made something that actually looks like a game. It has gamey things it in and fun little characters that talk to you and make you do things. I’m quite excited about it, probably more so than is justified it’s only baby steps at the moment.

Nonetheless, I’m uploading a demo of what I’ve made so far, then I can go back to finishing Across the Wall (book, not game).

Here’s a little info any potential players might want to see:

Plot Summary:-

‘And on this Chosen Day the gates to the Nether Realm will be opened and the demons shall reign terror upon us.” – The Chosen Day, Father Ignatus, Order of Salos

For many years now, Brother Calik von Heiss was a member of the Order of Salos, a group of priests sworn to keep the Chosen Day at bay. But when he is betrayed by his superior, he discovers that the Order of Salos is merely a front for something far darker.

Now, with a demon writhing at his very core and the Chosen Day creeping ever closer, Calik sets out to rid himself of his demon and stop the Order at all costs.

Features (These will all be on the full game):-

Tons of quests with an easy to follow quest journal

Raw Materials Gathering including mining, fishing, woodcutting etc

Duelling System

Pet System – Catch ‘em, Tame ‘em, Keep ‘em

Hidden Characters for your party

Special Equipment which requires certain tasks to be completed in order to be obtained

Secret Areas and Bosses

Powerful demon summons – unleash the demon within.

Character Bios:-

There are four main characters in the game and several extras will be added in the game later on. You will only see three of the four mains in this demo. Here’s what they’re all about.

Name: Brother Calik von Heiss

Age: 35

Class: Priest

Weapon Style: Bow

From an early age Calik knew of the demon within him, but following a tragic family loss he joined the Order of Salos aged just thirteen. He spent his life devoted to quelling the demon within, but as the Chosen Day draws closer it becomes more and more difficult. Despite his haunted past he is a kindly fellow who always tries to do right by his fellow man.

Name: Ark Welkand

Age: 37

Class: Bandit

Weapon Style: Dual Weapons

Ark spent his childhood as a nomad with a small tribe of Desert Wanderers, though his family had not always been a part of the tribe. At the age of eight he discovered a knack for stealing and fighting and decided that the nomadic lifestyle was not for him, turning instead to a life of crime. Following several unpleasant run-ins with the law Ark turned to a life as a Fortune Hunter and Tomb Raider, his most recent venture being the catacombs beneath the Order of Salos Monastary.

Name: Benedict Giles

Age: 64

Class: Shape Shifter

Weapon Style: Firearms

Once a respected Butler for a high-class family, Benedict turned into something of a mad hermit after their tragic deaths in a shipwreck. For a short time he tried to drown his sorrows in copious quantities of alcohol which led to some serious debt. Riddled with debt, he quit drinking and locked himself away in the old manor where he once worked, emerging only to test out his new and slightly mad ideas to make money.

Name: Ellin Barnaby

Age: A woman never reveals her age (but yeah, it’s 32)

Class: Witch

Weapon Style: Staffs

Ellin began living the lap of luxury when she was married to Lord Barnaby aged just sixteen and she loved it. The pampering, the beauty regimes, everything! She was a dutiful wife, birthing two sons for the aging Lord Barnaby by the time she was twenty-six. Then it was back to shoes, clothes, jewellery and pampering. There was just one problem. When she turned thirty she started to notice some…odd things. Things that don’t happen to normal people. These new-found powers could only mean one thing. She was a witch and that wasn’t good.

Screenshots (click to see the full sized screenie):-

Demo Download:-

Download here

To play just unzip the folder and double-click on the game file with a sort of unicorn head icon next to it.

Credits:-

Face Sets / Actors:

Dark Horseman

Famitsu.com

Avadan

Usui.moo.jp

Aweryn

Sprites:

Avadan

Famitsu Sprite Maker

Battlers:

Buttler

Ray321loz

Dark Horseman

Scripts:

Woratana – Recover HP + MP / On-Screen Shop

Yanfly – Victory Screen Script

SowS – Bag Pockets Script

OriginalWij – Named Save Games Script

wltr3565 – Walking Sprites in Menu

Modern Algebra – Quest Journal / Paragraph Formatter

Dorkfr3sh – Menu Location Window

If you have any problems with the demo or find any bugs/dialogue errors or anything that doesn’t look right then please do not hesitate to tell me as I can then resolve the issue. Also let me know if you think any credits have been missed. I have tried to log them all but some of the graphics are from way back when my categorising was sloppy.

All feedback is appreciated.

Thank you.

The Game Genie

The End is Nigh! – A long journey might be ending soon.

•June 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Now before anyone dismisses this as a crazed and slightly nonchalant Doomsday message, it’s not (I don’t believe in that crap anyway). This isn’t about the end of the world, this is about the end of a writing journey. I’ve been writing for about ten years now, of course at first it was just a few stories about my favourite teddy (the TY beanie named Pecan who was a boy even though the tag said he was a girl). Then I started writing for serious. I had plans, big plans, and it all kicked off with an odd sort of Sci-Fi set in a school. I was fourteen at the time and everyone (including the teachers) spoke like teens which got really annoying. Then that flopped for so many reasons and I had a new idea. Again it was a sci-fi about the four elements and parallel universes and battling Satan (I know, what was I thinking?). Unsurprisingly that idea flopped too (still hadn’t got past teenage speech) so I came up with a marvellous idea. This was to be my third and final sci-fi fail (to date at least), though you’d think I would have learned from the last two. This one actually had a name. It was eventually called the Puppeteer and started out as a Final Fantasy-esque fantasy (I’d been playing a lot of FFXII at the time) then turned to sci-fi. To start with it wasn’t horrendously bad, but eventually I put in so many twists and turns that even I got confused and had to abandon it (I would like to add that I have recently re-used the base story in The Company).

Then came my big idea. It came to me in a dream actually. Of course, when I say that I don’t mean that I dreamed of a good idea, the idea was the dream. When I woke up I thought long and hard about it, then made a few adjustments (such as removing the flying motorbikes and eventually the crystals that make you invisible) and hey presto, I had a workable base for a story. Granted, there was no plot; I had to fit that in around the bits I had already dreamed (and then eventually change them into something far more violent and quite different from the original dream), but I got there eventually. That was in 2007. How do I know? I have Word documents dating back to then containing the original drafts for Across the Wall. Last year, (June 2010) I spent three weeks after my exams working almost non-stop on the story and I finished it. Only really, I didn’t, because I started again. Not from scratch, but I wanted to do one last draft to make sure it is as good as it can be. Looking back at my previous works it’s safe to say that this is the better version (Sophie complained that it was horribly violent, but better for it) and I was right to write this final draft.

I now have three chapters to go (though it’s technically two because I’m splitting the last chapter in half) and I hope that my four years of work pay off. Part of me doesn’t want it to be over because I’ve become quite attached to my characters, but another part of me can’t wait to get the bloody thing done. But I make this vow to you now; by the end of the coming week I will have finished Across the Wall.

Right then…better get writing hadn’t I?

Underrated Genius – The Voice Actor

•June 25, 2011 • 2 Comments

For years we’ve watched cartoons such as The Powerpuff Girls and Winnie the Pooh and we heard the voices and never really questioned the people behind those voices, we simply accept them. Now a few days ago I was watching Anastasia (Fox’s attempt at Disney – it was good but a lot of people think it was Disney) and the villain Rasputin started singing his little number In the Dark of the Night. It’s a fantastic song and I would highly recommend it to anyone (and yes, I am listening to it now), but as the song kicked off I realised that Rasputin’s singing voice was not the same as his talking voice (the talking voice provided by Christopher Lloyd) and the singing voice was one I knew only too well. I then took a trip to IMDb (the Internet Movie Database) to see who it was and where I had heard it before. What I found was The voice actor. There are a lot of voice actors out there (a lot of them are in Japan) but there is one than most children over the past twenty years will have heard and loved. That would be the voice of Winnie the Pooh…oh and Tigger too.

Yes, the man behind the voices of two of the world’s most beloved children’s characters is a Mr Jim Cummings. Now you might be thinking, ‘Ok, so he does Tigger and Pooh and he sings, and?’. Well, I think you’ll find he’s done a little more than that. Jim Cummings has appeared in over 300 film and tv programmes since 1985, the vast majority of which have been for children. Scrolling through that really long list on IMDb really made me think ‘Good God he’s been in everything’, though that’s not strictly true. For anyone who had ever watched the Powerpuff Girls, Jim Cummings was the voice of Fuzzy Lumpkins, he has also voiced Pete in Micky Mouse features since 1992.

And as for the singing, well he is a singer after all as well as a fantastic voice actor, so when Jeremy Irons strained his voice singing  Be Prepared in the Lion King, Jim Cummings (who was already voicing Ed the Hyena at the time) kindly stepped to finish off the song. To be quite honest, when I first heard Jim Cummings’ actual speaking voice I was surprised because he sounded not at all as I expected, and then I saw him do Winnie the Pooh’s voice (it’s on Youtube somewhere) and to be honest it creeped me out. My brain was just screaming “No! You’re supposed to be a yellow bear in a jumper, not a man with a beard!” speaking of which, it’s a good beard and I can appreciate a good beard.

So here’s to Jim Cummings, he’s probably the best voice actor I’ve ever heard or seen…and I’m still listening to In the Dark of the Night… Unfortunately (at least to my knowledge) he doesn’t have an album out (to be fair he’s probably busy with his vast voice acting career) but I’m hoping one day he will.

The Real Problem With Aging

•June 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Now, when I say aging I don’t just mean aging into the elderly, I mean the whole process of growing up and then eventually becoming a Wrinkly (I’m going to grow old gracefully and when the wrinkles come, so be it). People say that getting old is awful because your body stops working properly, you can’t remember things and you get wrinkles. I say that’s not the worst of it, I already can’t remember things I did five minutes ago and I don’t really remember things chronologically. The hardest part of getting older isn’t the physical aging as such (though still being young I can’t really comment) I’ve found that it’s the mental implications that bug me the most. Remember when you were a kid and you watched Disney and everything was always happy and the heroes would win, the villains would lose and you knew in your little, childish heart that that’s how life would be. And then we grew up and suddenly life wasn’t so rosy as we thought.

This horrible realisation came about when I was recently watching Anastasia (that film by Fox which was like Disney, but not because it was Fox) and at the end she had eloped with her true love, Rasputin was dead (or something to that effect) and everyone was fine with Russia Grand Duchess simply eloping. At that point I went ‘Reality check!’ and in my head I was saying, but no that wouldn’t have happened. In real life no one would have said ‘good for you Anastasia, you go run off with a kitchen boy’ and Rasputin wasn’t quite so…soul selling.

At that moment I realised “Oh God, I’ve become cynical!”

To be fair, I already knew I was cynical, always have been always will, but when I felt the need to put down a kid’s film for lack of life accuracy, well…that’s just sad.

Adults always tell their kids not to wish their lives away and damn it, they were right. So to any kids reading this first of all you may not want to read all of this blog as some parts may not be child friendly (I can’t remember what I’ve written but I bet I’ve cursed somewhere) and secondly, hold on to the time you have as a kid. Play all the imaginary games you can, because when you’ve grown up you’ll wish you were a kid again.

My final word on this; it’s because we, as humans, always want what we can’t have. The young can’t wait to grow up and the old would give anything to be young again.