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Development Diary – 9/15

Screenshot (1)

Black Yard lumbers along, though to what purpose I know not. Unlikely to be slouching to Bethlehem or anything else so portentous.

I think I’ve determined what the overall gameplay loop is supposed to be; that’s good, since when I started, I had no idea. I just wanted to tell the story of the unpleasant things that might be sleeping under a parochial school. I ended up tying it back to the fact that it’s a recurring nightmare of mine. The main character is hunting through the school, looking for memory fragments. With enough of them, he can confront the nightmare.

Then comes the part where I have to decide which fragments are in the game; I have plenty of source material, since to a degree the game is autobiographical. Which ones are important enough to be here? How far back should I go? How far forward?

Once I have that narrowed down, I have to start peppering the environment with them. This is where I am currently; I’ve done one of the two school buildings (specifically covering the 4th through 8th grade classrooms) and have dropped a handful of the artifacts into the environment. I don’t know if I’m doing it “right” or not, though.

In the fourth grade room, there are four memories to be found, one trigger that will lead to another memory elsewhere, and two general items that will lead to other memories. Seven important items in one room.

The fifth grade classroom, in contrast, has the entrance to a hidden area where a memory can be found (if you’ve done a few other things first), a potential game over (if you didn’t do some of those other things) and a clue to another memory. Three important things.

The sixth grade classroom has one memory, one item that is used to obtain a memory elsewhere, and foreshadowing of another memory that will be found later. Again, only three items.

The walkway between the classrooms has three NPCs in it; one who is mainly there for flavor text and can’t really be interacted with, one who sends you on a fetch quest that will ultimately lead to a memory, and one who, if you help him out, will provide you with something you need to get another memory elsewhere.

I suppose what I’m wondering is if there’s too much junk in one room and they need to be spread out more, or if I need to cram more crap into the other rooms that are “done,” or if I can leave it as is. I just don’t know.

But that’s where I stand. I would say this is roughly 12% complete. Yes, I’m mostly pulling that number out of my ass. That number also only indicates what I’m doing with the resources supplied with RPG Maker VX Ace, so if somehow I get the time and money to obtain non-generic tiles and the like, the number changes. But we’ll see.

What are your folks’ opinions? Too much, too little, who the hell cares? Let me know down below.

As always, if you like the stuff I do and want to help me keep doing it, you can always stop by my Patreon or drop a dime in the bucket for my surgery GoFundMe. Contributions are always appreciated but never required.

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Serial Sacrilege

Any time something becomes part of a series, a fandom will emerge. I think that’s in the 10 commandments or something. But that fandom will, as the first order of business, generally sort out the “official” ranking of all items in that series. Arguing with that ranking is an excellent way to have yourself ousted from that fandom’s places and considered a pariah. One will hear “you’re not a real fan” for defending a poorly ranked entry, or for finding a different item in the list the “best” than the popular consensus.

This happens with books, movies, and video games. Since I most recently encountered it with video games, though, that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Silent Hill, despite being “dead” after Konami shoved a stake in P.T. still has a fairly rabid fanbase. General consensus says Silent Hill 2 is the best of the bunch. I actually agree with that; it is certainly my favorite, and tread the line between mystery and horror quite well. Where I begin to dip into heresy is that I don’t despise the HD version that was released for 360 and PS3. I’m not a huge fan of the new voices (though, if playing on PS3, you can opt for the old ones if you prefer), and I don’t think the tweaks to the graphics “ruin” the game. Strike 1 for me.

Strike 2 comes when I say I like Downpour. In fact, it ranks 2nd in my own listing of the series. Yes, it had some technical problems at launch, problems which to this day haven’t been fully resolved. But it is definitely playable in the current state, the characters are great, and the story is incredibly well done.

Strike 3 (and then I’m out, and informed I’m not a “real Silent Hill fan,” whatever that means) comes when I admit to being entertained by Book of Memories. Is it a good Silent Hill game? No, not really. Is it a pretty entertaining dungeon crawler with some cool creepy elements and an amusing Silent Hill skin laid on top? Why yes, yes it is.

I am similarly barred from the Devil May Cry community (primarily for thinking that DmC is actually a really good game; Emo Dante may be insufferable, but the mechanics are almost perfect and I actually like this version of Vergil. My thinking Devil May Cry 4 isn’t absolute trash – and in some ways may be better than the first game – doesn’t help, either.) The Metal Gear community seems to dislike me because I didn’t despise Raiden out of the gate; it’s apparently only okay to like him once he became a cyborg ninja. Thinking Armstrong from Metal Gear Rising is the second-best boss in the series – only being topped by Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 4 – is apparently a venial sin.

I’m sure there’s plenty of other examples. My dislike of Ocarina of Time and my only lukewarm enjoyment of Breath of the Wild mark me as a Legend of Zelda heretic, thinking Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is precisely what a 3D Castlevania should be and deserves a sequel (and hell with Lords of Shadow,) etc, etc.

This could apply to books and movies as well, but as noted, I was thinking of games (due to having finally knocked out Bloody Palace mode in Devil May Cry 2, which significantly changed my opinion of that game… ironically bringing my views more in line with the holy writ of canon in that fandom.)

What about you out there? What series fandoms are you “banished” from, and why? What do you think about the groups that establish such mindsets? Let me know down below!

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Good Enough

A phrase that I feel gets a bad rap is “Good enough.” I’ve seen quite a few posts, Tweets, and comments that, when boiled down, essentially say “Good enough… isn’t.”


I get what they’re trying to say, I think; don’t half-ass something and call it “good enough.” But they’re discounting a large group of obsessive, perfectionistic types – myself included – who will read that statement and end up never actually finishing anything… because they can only see “good enough,” not “perfect.”

There needs to be a distinction between “good enough” of the type that says “Eh, I did okay, and nobody can complain about it” and “good enough” of the flavor that says “I did all that I was capable of.”

The former is a sin. The second is what keeps things from building up in the “I’m tinkering with that but it’s not done” pile, because such things will never be done… as they will always just be “good enough,” to a certain mindset.

Of course, I am insane – certifiably, mind; I don’t swallow a handful of bitter pills every morning just for funsies – and may just be justifying my own garbage. But I still think there’s something worthwhile in doing something that’s “good enough.” At least it’s done. Better to have something done than trapped in eternal limbo, or so I think.

I’m having plenty of those moments as I work on Black Yard. I’m doing it with RPG Maker VX Ace, because it’s the tool I have. I can’t afford a newer one at this time. Writing code from scratch is not really an option (back in the dark days of DOS, it was; I was fairly proficient with C++ at the time, and could usually make BASIC comply; since the dawn of Windows, those skills are no longer functional.) I lack the talent and skills to draw or paint well, and lack the resources to hire someone else to do it, so I have to make do with the default textures and sprites. While I was at one point capable of playing piano, bass, and guitar, I never had much of an ear for music or the creation thereof; I was a mildly talented audiocopier, essentially. I also lack tools for creating music and sound effects, even if I had an ear and a mind for such. So the stock ones have to do.

Will Black Yard be everything I want it to be, everything it could and should be in the best of all possible worlds? Probably not. But will it be “good enough?” Yes. It will be the best I can make it, it will tell the story I want it to tell, and when I hit the “compile” button and generate an .EXE that is “finished,” I will be happy.

Then I’ll nod my head and say “Good enough.”

KA Spiral no signature


Thirteen Reasons Writers are Mistaken for Serial Killers — Kristen Lamb

I can neither confirm nor deny that I may be on a watch list somewhere for some of these. (Comments disabled here, please visit the original post.)

Writers really are a strange breed and just so y’all know? The normal ship sailed without you a long time ago so relax. Your family or friends might not ‘get’ you but your fellow writers do. I love being a writer. It’s a world like no other and it’s interesting how non-writers are simultaneously fascinated…

via Thirteen Reasons Writers are Mistaken for Serial Killers — Kristen Lamb


How to Title Your Book — A Writer’s Path

Some very useful advice, especially for those of us like myself who are title-impaired. (Comments disabled here, please visit the original post.)

by Samantha Fenton The right title for your book is incredibly important: It’s what you and everyone else will be calling it the rest of your life. The title is one of the first things people will ask for, and one of the first ways you’ll describe your book. But how do you title […]

via How to Title Your Book — A Writer’s Path


Cranky whining

One of those random musings, primarily because I’m having a day that is much higher on the “try not to leave the bed” scale than is normal.

“How much could I get done if I wasn’t broken?”

Genuine curiosity surrounds that. Like, legit, could I get something done if I wasn’t a gimp or wasn’t certifiably crazy?

I think the answer is probably “no.” I’m not one of those “you must suffer for your art” types, but at the same time, I do think it has an impact. If I didn’t spend a lot of time sheltered as a child, if I didn’t have a lot of time left alone with my thoughts, if I wasn’t unable to participate in other activities due to my physical limitations, I probably wouldn’t want to sit and write stories about deranged genies and crying dolls possessed by the spirits of murdered children. I wouldn’t want to be tinkering with game creation tools to make a haunted parochial school.

Would I still be attracted to the creative arts? Who knows? I’m not that version of Kaine. I’m this one, and that’s all I know.

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Trophy Hunt, September 11


It’s been slow going on the trophy front for the last week; between spending a lot of time dealing with medical problems and working on Black Yard and the games I had on hand either being time sinks or being annoying and unfun to start with, progress was stalled.

I did, however, kick out three Platinums since we last spoke; Yomawari: Night Alone finally gave up the ghost, so to speak, after wrapping a rubber band around the thumbstick and glaring at the Vita for a couple of days. “Long Night” is potentially the trophy I am most angry at for existing. I don’t mind “play for this long” trophies in some games, so long as they make for at least a semi-logical timeframe. But if your game takes around 5 hours to 100%, including multiple RNG factors and a metric crapton of pattern memorization and dying until you get it just right, you don’t need a damned trophy to play it for 50 hours. No one is wandering around that map for ten times longer than they need to just for funsies. But at least it finally popped.

Steins;Gate 0 was also encountered and defeated. This was also a bit of a sour one. I’ve heard, repeatedly, that the Steins;Gate games are amazing visual novels. I haven’t tried the first one as of yet (though it is installed on my PS3), but 0 was possibly the most boring one I’ve played other than Nekopara. I worked my way through the first four chapters, discovering that the only real choices you were making were whether to answer your phone or not – you get text messages sometimes, and can respond to them in a variety of ways, but they don’t actually change anything – and even then that happens maybe once a chapter… well. I was less than impressed. The fact I didn’t care about any of the characters, actively hated at least two of them and was bored to tears with what story I’d been presented with didn’t help. I’m not ashamed to admit I put the little bugger in fast forward and blitzed out the trophies before dropping it back in the mailbox.

On the other hand, for an actually entertaining visual novel-style game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is finally complete. It took longer than expected – as with a lot of VNs or adventure games, sometimes you will bash your head against the wall repeatedly even when you know the answer, because the game wants you to present it their way, which is sometimes a little obtuse – but it was still fun, funny, and appropriately emotional at times. There weren’t enough “do random stuff” trophies for my taste, and the “collectible” trophies varied between “why is this even an achievement?” to “how much of this do I have to endure?”, so could have used a little evening out, but I don’t regret my time with Nick and his friends. Well worth it.

So far as what’s next, I still have to deal with HTOL#NIQ, which shares a cartridge with Yomawari. I don’t know if it’s a game I can actually platinum or not, but I’ll try. Also, inspired by YouTuber NitroRad’s Halloween Specials, I came back to Siren and NightCry, making a little progress in each. Siren is occasionally frustrating, but still a decent enough game (and hey, Sony, if you’re reading this? Can we get Forbidden Siren 2 or Siren: Blood Curse ported over to PS4? Thanks). NightCry is active torture. Whoever let that thing get released with those frame rate issues should be shot. (Ever play a Clock TowerHaunting Ground, or Outlast? Picture trying to run from the enemies in those games with a stamina bar that makes Sebastian in The Evil Within look like a Kenyan long-distance runner, incredibly twisty paths, and running at 5 FPS or less. Yeah. It’s that bad.) Which, since I’m begging Sony for stuff anyway, hey, can we get Clock Tower 3 and Haunting Ground as PS4 ports? Or even PS2 classics on PS3? Pretty please?

Anyway. That’s it for now. I have to go make another room in Black Yard.

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