Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Life in Redmond / Project Mirror

I've now spent nearly a week in Redmond, WA and, while I still don't have any furniture for my room, it's been quite enjoyable so far. I don't think I'll ever get tired of all the evergreens and, while cloudy skies and rain are common, I don't find that it dampens my mood at all. Overall, the climate suits me much better than that of the Midwest.

Between the textbooks owned by my roommates and those in DigiPen's library, I now have access to all the materials I could ever want concerning game design and development and a number of other subjects besides. I've only read a couple chapters out of a book on Real-Time Rendering so far, but I expect I'll be much more motivated to pursue further studies once school begins in earnest. Today marks the first day of orientation for graduate students. I believe we're starting classes next Tuesday, but I could be wrong. In any case, I'm sure we'll be given all of the important details at orientation.

The thing I'm currently most excited about, though, is the Penny Arcade Exposition (PAX) this weekend. Between all of the panels on game design and development and other related subjects, the booths where developers get to show off their newest games, and the live music in the evenings, it promises to be one hell of a time! I'm going to have to make myself a schedule of what events to attend, because there are far too many good ones to choose from!

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With no classes yet and (until yesterday) being without the textbooks I had been studying this summer, you may wonder what I've been doing for the past week. Well, apart from getting settled and playing games, I've been working on fleshing out designs for a new project in RPG Maker. I've decided to switch back to the RPG Maker XP engine this time, mostly so that I can make more visually distinctive maps that don't rely as heavily on lighting effects.

The general premise of the game is that an artifact known as the Chaos Mirror has been destroyed, leaving our two heroes, Mars and Corona, stranded in different dimensions, each parallel to the one from which they both came. In order to return to their world, they have to find and repair the broken mirror in their respective dimensions. The player can switch between the two dimensions using mirrors that are scattered throughout the world. Certain obstacles in one dimension will be impassable without action being taken in the alternate dimension, so this will add variety to the puzzles and gameplay and give some much-needed interaction between the storylines of the two characters.

In order to make combat more interesting, I've delved into several RPG Maker websites to find scripts for a custom battle system that allows for more visually exciting battles and a wider variety of skills and character classes. The battle system I've found allows me to add features such as active/wait battles (think Chrono Trigger), the Overdrive meter from Final Fantasy 7, Blitz skills (skills that require the user to enter a combination of keys/buttons in order to execute them), and animated battlers, which are noticeably absent from both RPG Maker XP and VX. It's going to take me a while to get my head around all the features, some of which I won't even be using, but once I do, I'll have a fairly robust system up and running, one that isn't just your standard turn-based affair.

My hope is that I'll be able to continue this project even after classes start, but we'll see. Whether it's through this project or something else, I do intend to pursue studies in game design, since I won't be getting education in that field in the classes that I'll be taking. While I may need to pidgeonhole myself in terms of technical skills in order to get the job I want, that doesn't mean I can't still make myself a more rounded individual outside of my main studies.

Anyway, that's all I have for now. Once classes start, I'll make another post. One more week!

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