Monthly Archives: March 2006

Ar-Three

I had a nasty scare today. Ar Tonelico seemed to be wrapping up, after only 20 hours and not nearly enough fun. Just when I was afraid the final credits were about to roll, I saw PHASE 1 COMPLETE. It started me on Phase 2, which suggests that I’m not more than halfway through the game yet. That’s joyous news, because before this, I can’t remember the last time I wanted to play a game more than I had time for.

I enjoy games, but often I find myself playing them not to *enjoy* them, but to *finish* them. I just want to get my money’s worth, check the game off my list, and move on to the next game to see if that one might contain the fun I’ve been looking for since finishing Xenogears. It’s still too early to say whether this could be that game, but it sure is promising.

– Gorgeous character designs

– A variety of legendary-seeming characters

– Mysterious cities in the sky

– Mysterious, powerful masked characters

– Big clunky robot enemies

– Sleek alien robot enemies

– Hundreds of illustrated items to collect

– Extensive crafting system

– Visual-novel-esque conversation system

– **Cute girls who weave magic by singing**

– **Costume system for aforementioned cute girls**

– Isometric pixel art

– Entities whose circumstances go back to way before you met them

I could go on and on and on. Every time I try to itemize all of the things about this game that please me, I get lost in the volume of them. Each one is important, and yet none of them is as meaningful as the overall sensation of *honest fun* the game offers, in its own geeky and fringey way.

I ordered the USA version of *Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana*, Gust’s other recent game, just because I want to tell them “thanks for making this kind of thing”, and I want to tell NIS America “thanks for bringing this kind of thing to my homeland”.

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Yes, that old chestnut..

Time. And not having it.. thing.

Well, it’s been busy yes, but I feel better about SL than I have for a long time. Playing the current version we have puts a lot of long-time things we’ve wanted together nicely. The funny thing about this kind of project is that you can be 90% of the way there and be using your imagination (as someone developing this game – you know what to expect) to imagine the other 10% and feel happy with the result. However, once that final 10% of whatever you are doing is actually complete, and the thing you are working on is as it will be in the final game, then without fail there is a moment of wow.

We’ve been expanding the scenery in the first level (screenies soon, promise!) and I think it’s helping a lot to make the game a bit more solid. Now, if only we could make explosions look awesome…

Oh! And I must make particular mention of one Sami Hangaslammi who was instrumental in helping me get the Windows version of the game into a distributable exe form with his amazing tool PyPack. :D

I will probably post an update tonight, since I’m close to having quite a few of the new graffix done. Oh, and a new font :D

Endings

Since we started showing the game to people, almost everyone has had the same reaction: “You can’t die!?” Of course, being able to die would make the game much harder to test; we’d have to actually try to survive in order to test out things that happen later in the level. I kept telling myself “that’s easy; I’ll add that later.” Today I finally did. I also taught the game how to know that you’d beaten the boss and that the level is over, which was somewhat more difficult. So now our game can end, can have an outcome, a win or a loss. That’s a nice psychological distinction from what the game was before, more like a toy than a game.

Two Weeks

We failed to enter the contest, but we have set our own deadline. Downloadable demos for Mac and Windows on April 3. We are serious about this landing.

Shmup Dev contest

We’re scrambling to complete a mini-demo for the Shmup Dev one-level-demo contest. We have to omit a lot of details that are dear to us to finish it by this weekend, but having a goal and a deadline has done much for our productivity.

Ar-two

Ar-tonelico continues to pile on the smiles. The combat is based on maintaining harmony with your Revetail, the singer who accompanies you into battle, as something of a mage-bard. That’s cool, but get this: when you craft a new item using the game’s cute little alchemy system, your current Reveteil suggests a cute name for it. Each Reveteil has her own preferences about item names, and her own way of convincing you to use her item names. You can agree with her suggestion or stick with your own name for the item. This means craftable items have several different possible names: one for each Revetail who might suggest a name, in addition to the standard name. As far as I can tell, this has no effect on the gameplay; it’s just the kind of touch that makes a solid game into an enthralling one.

Ar-to 3

Ar-to 2

Ar-to 1