Monday, June 30, 2014

Home Run!

I haven't made any blog posts in over a week, mostly because I was out of town and busy, with little to no Internet available except via my phone. I was busy with many things--mostly the fact that I was in Flagstaff, seeing the sights of northern Arizona, but also spending a lot of time testing and building a game.

If you have a Windows PC, you can actually download and play the game right now, for free. I'm actually going to spend this blog talking about what it is and what I hope it can be.

There are over 250 entries in that contest, most of which put a lot more work into the visuals than I did. In act, my only contribution to the visuals was choosing which pre-made tiles, sprites, and portraits to use, and in what order. Likewise, the music selection was all built-in tracks.

The result is a game that looks and sounds like an RPG Maker game.

My goal was to change the way encounters are perceived in an RPG, and I think I'm on track to doing so. Home Run! isn't quite there yet--I think the battle system is the weakest part of the game, after the visuals. Still, the idea I'm going for is that, to a kid, their experience is all about perception. A fence with a dog behind it can be just as frightening or even more frightening than just a dog by itself. The entrance to a stranger's house can scare you away with the slightest sound, and just talking to a kid that looks weird can be difficult.

One of the things I'd like to do, given the opportunity, is to develop lots more of these "encounters" that a kid would face and have to overcome in one scenario or another.

The visuals I had to work with affected many things in this game. In particular, I wanted the kids to be a few years younger. The current kids seem to be maybe 10-14, except for the bully who could probably pass for being in his 20s. I wanted instead to create an adventure for 6-8 year olds, but given the sprites and portraits I had, I wrote the characters to sound just a bit older than that.

Given the chance, I'd like to develop this further with tiles and sprites that give the neighborhood a sense of scale. Everything--fences, adults, houses, cars--everything is bigger than a kid, and that feeling encourages a drive to explore, especially in small spaces where bigger people can't go.

But anyway, those are my next challenges: developing "encounters" that are interesting and fun to play through and creating an art style that conveys the atmosphere I want players to experience.

With that said, I hope you'll check out my little prototype and tell me what you think. Despite its problems, I think the game conveys a lot of what you can expect from me in terms of writing and scenario. Even though I clearly ripped off The Sand Lot for the story.

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