Thursday, August 23, 2012

Anime Chick Drinking a Beer

It's a lazy day. This picture has nothing to do with anything, except now I want a beer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pixel Art: Ultimate RPG Concept Art

A Fighter, Doctor, Wizard, and Warlock. The in-game sprites are much smaller, but these were the original battle sprites. I'm now using the overworld sprites for battle graphics, even though these would have been awesome.

They might look nice on the sidebar....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Girl Talk: All Day

Greg Gillis is Girl Talk, a DJ ninja who uses pop songs as shuriken. I've never talked about any music that wasn't video game related on the site before, but I'm sure every gamer needs music to listen to instead of some repeating video game track which was fine for 100 hours, but after 200 hours really needs to change.

For that, I recommend All Day, a 70+ minute mash-up of 372 pop songs, ranging from famous to super famous to entirely obscure. You can download the album for free here, and the label's website has tons of other mash-up music as well. Listen to track 06 in the embedded youtube link below if you doubt me, and enjoy.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ultimate RPG desicions

No more data can be recovered from the Ultimate RPG file; the OHRRPGCE creator was nice enough to diagnose the file and see that somehow most of the file was written-over with junk data.

Life goes on. I've looked at the partial file I recovered and it only had a few sprites and a few towns, but none of the event programming, battles, interaction, etc. So I've decided to go back to the pre-alpha demo build from months ago because it's more advanced than the recovered file.

I also recovered the tileset and overworld map, but in retrospect the pre-alpha overworld is better anyway.

I'll probably scrap both overworlds and start from scratch. I had originally planned 8 towns and 8 dungeons, but that's not going to be enough. The world will be entirely open-ended from the very beginning.

I'm also working a cool system in which most enemies are sort of like the player characters, overall this means you'll be able to fight tons of NPCs. Like Ultima, actions will have consequences, but being "good" or "evil" isn't going to be a requirement.

You will also be able to recruit dozens of party members from among the different classes. Starter classes are Fighter, Wizard, Doctor, Warlock. Fighters are pretty straightforward, and will be an easy class to start with because of a very high starting HP. Doctors heal other characters, and also know how to inflict pain in human enemies. Wizards will focus on casting ridiculous damage spells, including all forms of electromagnetism (highly damaging to robots) as well as out-of-battle utility spells. Finally, my favorite class, warlock, uses high-cost spells as well as both pain and lightning spells.

There are 2 enemy types: robots and humans. Humans take severe damage from "pain" spells, similarly to the robotic weakness against electromagnatism.

Players can recruit both humans and robots of each class.

Song of the Week: Guilty Gear X Blue Water Blue Sky

I don't even know what to say about Guilty Gear because I'm such a huge fan of the series: both in terms of gameplay and story. I've logged embarrassing about of hours on Guilty Gear X (Dreamcast) and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus (PS2).

Of all the songs from both of these games, nothing is as memorable for me as "Blue Water, Blue Sky," a catchy rock/pop song with awesome electric guitars. Listen, then go play Guilty Gear.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ultimate RPG File Partly Recovered

This is good news and bad news. I recovered part of the Ultimate RPG file. But only part-- about 2 dozen sprites are still lost, and the world map design has been rolled back significantly. The work lost represents about half of the file's data.

There is still more good news: I have a file with all (or at least most) of the data on it. I just can't open the file. ..

However, I've emailed the creator of OHRRPGCE, the engine which powers the game (as well as Star Quest, Fight Town, and Skeletronic), for a possible solution. We'll see what happens, but I'll continue to post updates because I hope my data can be reclaimed and I'm very passionate about this new game, which is only code-named "Ultimate RPG."

Mortal Kombat II (Game Gear) Review

Mortal Kombat is without a doubt the most infamous video game of the 1990s; for crusaders against video games and fear-mongers, it perfectly typified all the anxieties associated with video game violence. Politicians and parents could blame Mortal Kombat instead of looking at the real sources of violence in our society--ignorance, a harsh prison system, racial inequalities, xenophobia, etc.

Well, the joke's on those fuckers because today the "violence" in Mortal Kombat is laughable at best--cartoonish explosions of 4 heads, 16 arms, 5 torsos, and 9 legs; skeleton's rising from acid; heads being eaten by dragons... you know, all the standard shit that in 2012 feels closer to a Nintendo or Disney production than a serious threat to society.

The solid gameplay, however, remains undisturbed and has easily evaded Time's deadly caress.

Like the Ultima series, Mortal Kombat is a franchise that I'd like to delve deeply into over the following months, and to kick off this exploration I'd like to look at the first Mortal Kombat game I owned: MK2 for the Sega Game Gear.

Quite possibly , MKII for the Sega Game Gear is the best 8-Bit fighting game you'll ever play. Considering the Game Gear is as powerful as an NES, the animations and graphics are an incredible achievement. Although 4 characters were purged for this release (Raiden, Johnny Cage, Kung Lao, and Baraka), the rest of the cast looks very close to their arcade counterparts. The moveset has been simplified as well, due to the reduced buttons (so just 1 punch button and 1 kick button), but if anything this just makes the game slightly easier without hurting anything. For example, Scorpion's spear is still activated by Back, Back, Punch, and so players can easily transfer the moves they've learned onto this version. Even Fatalities are the same, however mercy's, babialities, friendships, and animalities are all absent.

The game only has 2 regular stages to play on, which is disappointing but acceptable. The bosses, thankfully, have unique arenas. You can still uppercut players into the spikes for a stage Fatality. Music is recognizable and catchy, but fewer tunes exist than on the arcade, which is to be expected.

There are 3 difficulty settings, each ups the intensity and also adjusts how many credits the player has. Every character has an ending, and I'm pretty sure the storyline follows the arcade, but I can't remember if it is exactly the same.

As a kid I couldn't put this cartridge down. I'd stay close by a power outlet so I play (Game Gears took 6x AA batteries per 3 hours...) These days I'd probably rather play Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, but that doesn't mean I won't occasionally power down the M.A.M.E. and indulge in a nostalgia trip through Game Gear City.

You should too. Via Meka if necessary.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Romhacks moving to IPS format

This is all pretty standard, but I wanted to give readers and players a heads-up. I'm going to be removing all romhacks and replacing them with IPS patches very soon. This will include Cool Advent Island, Demons From the Past, Block, Protoman 2 & 3, and the Helmetless hacks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ultima III: Exodus World Map

Ultima III: Exodus might look like it has a small map, and it some ways it is, but the developers really squeezed everything they could out of this relatively small space. Because of the line-of-sight feature, you can't always see everything that's on the screen. This makes exploring more exciting because you actually have to walk around the mountains rather than just looking at the edge of the screen. The world loops around the edges, but unlike Final Fantasy 2, you can't just walk around forever.

Towns and dungeons can go unnoticed by players for YEARS, without the help of a guide. The same thing happens inside cities, where the line of site blackout can hide gigantic buildings through clever placement of walls and doors. The towns are almost as big as the world map itself, and overall Exodus is a monster of a quest. 

Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest certainly have bigger maps, but they've streamlined the RPG to the point where those world maps get eaten up quickly by new players.

Also, FF and DQ are rarely non-linear experiences (although they have their moments). Ultima is basically an RPG sandbox, allowing you to go anywhere, visit towns in any order, shuffle your party around, kill townspeople, steal, and generally have a romping good RPG time.

It's also worth nothing that Exodus was released 3 years before Dragon Warrior and 4 years before Final Fantasy. In those years, it's sad to say, Squaresoft and Enix made the world maps bigger, but the gameplay was undeniably dumbed down and the player was forced on a "quest" that was more like a "hallway with occasional doors." Ultima IV, released only 2 years after Exodus (and still before 1 year before Dragon Warrior and 2 years before Final Fantasy) upped the world map to an insane level, easily topping DQ and FF in terms of realism, complexity, and number of locations. Ultima IV also had a text parsing system which allowed the player to talk to NPCs and get clues on solving the quests. So why didn't other games follow suit with legitimate gameplay advances? Why do no games today use text parsers?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pixel Art: Skeletronic Sprites

These skeleton sprites are from an old game I was making entitled Skeletronic. The concept started out as a "Pac-Man Adventure game," and quickly evolved into a "run away from skeletons in a Giant maze game."

I currently don't have any plans on releasing the game itself, but you never know. I'll probably post the tileset for the game as well (all the tiles are blue monochrome because of the original Pac-Man inspiration).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ultimate RPG File Corrupted!

Unfortunately the game I was working on (Ultimate RPG) became corrupted, and I don't have a backup file. Bummer. I have a much, much, much earlier build of the game, but it's sad to lose so much new stuff. The only data that I still have is about 1/4 of the tileset and the old sprite set. Even the sprites I posted last time got deleted.

OHRRPGCE has been good, but I think it's time to change engines, possibly to Game Maker.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny Tileset

The tileset posting continues! Ultima 5 boasts 512 tiles (compared to the 256 of Ultima 4), and one can easily tell the difference when playing both games. Overall, however, there is a lot of wasted nonsense like the pink "Shadow Realm" tiles, "sitting down" tiles, and the four-frames of animation for everything.

The class sprites are greatly reduced, no more Tinkers, Druids, Paladins, Wizards, Rangers, Fighters, Shepherds, or Bards... instead characters use either the "Rogue," "Knight," or "Wizard" sprite. Yet, with the lack of diversity, the artist uses space within the tiles more more effectively by filling in more space (so there is less black) and making everything look realistic through shading and eliminating the representation of unimportant/awkward sprite features such as necks.

As far as gameplay is concerned, I'm making good progress in Ultima 5, although some of the new mechanics are annoying at best. Picking up loot has become a veritable chore, and the DAY/NIGHT system is poorly implemented as far as I can tell. Basically there is nothing new to explore at night, and the towns and shops close down in the dark.

On the positive side, the player is no longer burdened with protecting his or her Avatarhood, and can lie, cheat, steal, run away from fights, and murder like the good old days of Ultima 1-3.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Original Midgard NESTalgia Artwork

I've had this guy for a while and forgot to post it. Behold, the original artwork for one of NESTalgia's toughest fights, Midgard. The artwork has since been upgraded, but I sometimes prefer the earlier "less professional" sprites.

Nestalgia is an excellent free-to-play 8-Bit MMORPG and you should definitely check it out.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Download Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar for FREE (Legally!!!)

The Ultima IV tileset is enjoying surprising amounts of traffic, so I thought I'd follow up with another cool download. This came as a nice surprise, but you can actually grab Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar on 100% for free. It's hard to complain about free. They've also got deals on the other Ultima games as well, so check those out if interested. Don't listen to any haters talking about the games "not aging well." Those people can gtfo my internet.

The PC version is much better than the somewhat-butchered NES port, but I like the NES box art (pictured above) a little more. I suppose the NES version has it's charm, but it's still more of a curiosity than anything else. Thankfully I've had the PC version since the days of AOL, so I never bothered with the NES port.

The NES port of Ultima III: Exodus, on the other hand, is quite brilliant.

Ultima IV Quest of the Avatar Tileset

Last week I finally finished Ultima II, which allowed me to return to my 7-months-in-progress game of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. Tonight, all I have to do is reach the depths of hell and recover the lost codex of the Avatar.

So in honor of this historic event I'm posting the Ultima IV tileset in all its glory. More posts on various Ultima-related escapades forthcoming.

Overall it's an amazing tileset that can teach new pixel artists a lot about economy and representation (particularly of environments). My only criticism of the graphics is the decision to use 4 frames of animation for the enemies. 2 frames per monster would have been plenty. Sorry it's slightly messed up at the bottom, that was a mistake I made when adjusting the colors to more-accurately reflect how they appear on a very old but brilliant 14-inch CRT monitor.