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Taming Taming Dreams

Posted by A Tobias 2 years ago
While I released the ∞ Android version of Taming Dreams ∞ a while ago, I'm uncertain, conflicted, and unmotivated about where to go from here, though I'm making progress with all of those things, which I'd like to write about here. I'll also address some of the things people mentioned in comments on my ∞ previous post ∞. Mostly, I want to talk about the creative process, the effect that judgement has on it, and various aspects of Taming Dreams that I feel could have been done better based on the feedback I've got so far, particularly in regards to storytelling and character depictions. I'll also touch on the common suggestion that I should be developing for Steam instead.

Of those four options...

I wrote last time of four possible game ideas I could explore, including Taming Dreams. I've spent days thinking about them and at least doing a bit of planning or work on all of them, and here's what I've discovered and decided on so far.

I'm not likely to be working on the AFC mobile version any time soon. While it's something I might return to one day, it's just too unclear at the moment and I don't have any good ideas for monetising it (I have plenty of ideas, just no good ones).

I like the idea of Yden still. I returned to the old version, and playing it just for a couple of hours reminded me of how addictive it can be. However, when attempting to work on the mobile version, progress was sluggish because I wasn't driven by the same frantic obsession that possessed me with the original. I'll work at it a bit at a time, when the mood takes me, but I won't make it my primary focus.

I played Taming Dreams a bit again, and realised that I've done a lot of good work so far with that. So I'm definitely not giving it up (though I never planned to; I only meant to postpone it, at worst). However, the feedback and recent thoughts have made me aware of many issues with it, which I wish I could address...

To that end, I might consider working on the six-episode story with the same engine, which will address the issues people had in direct ways I'll cover later in this gargantuan post.

Firstly, though...

The Creative Process & Critique

I've spent huge chunks of the last few days listening to music that I composed about a decade ago, when I was 16 to 18. I had no idea what I was doing at the time! I'd never been formally taught anything about music theory, and the only musical experience I had was playing the recorder back in primary school and having a handful of piano lessons when I was 16 (which is largely what spurred the desire to compose my own music). Though I wasn't technically competent, I was driven by the strong, passionate desire to express myself, to create for creation's sake, and I produced many pieces that - while dissonant and directionless or even harsh to my maturer ears - I still regard fondly as portals to a time of relative creative bliss.

Bliss and ignorance are intertwined. If you don't really know what you're doing, then there's less pressure to do it well or 'correctly'. If however you do know what you're 'supposed' to be doing, you know when you deviate from that proper path, and if you lack the skill to stay on it, then this causes stress which kills any joy you might otherwise have got from the creative process. What could be opportunities to learn or experiment become 'errors' that you should feel bad about. Rules are important to produce good work, but getting too concerned with following them kills creativity.

These days I rarely compose at all, because I know of the rules of music theory, but I also know how much I don't know about them. All I see are the holes in my knowledge and skills, and those holes destroy my confidence and make me want to just study and practise for years before even attempting to create a finished piece. The same is true for drawing and, recently, writing too.

The motivation-killer here is the inner critic, but adding external critics of course exacerbates the effect. When you're no longer creating for your own pleasure, but instead find yourself constantly concerned about what others might think of your output, then your work becomes less about enjoyment and more about the desire to impress. And since preferences are subjective anyway, impressing everyone is impossible... But perfectionism leads to the desire to do just that anyway.

While the negative reviews of Taming Dreams are a minority, most so far are quite detailed in their tearing apart of my efforts. Many creative people refuse to read reviews of their work, and it's clear why; knowing that someone hated what you poured your heart into feels as if you've been stabbed through that heart.

And yet - in the eyes of probably the majority of people reading this, I assume - becoming blind to critique leads to stagnation. I don't necessarily agree with this - I know that I got better at music composition just by doing it over and over, without being told where I was going 'wrong' - but I do understand that knowing what people dislike allows you to refine those faults and create a better piece of work, especially if the work is meant for public consumption.

Anyway. I've been very unmotivated about Taming Dreams recently because some people didn't like it, and told me why in harsh detail. Now all I can see when I look at it are these problems. However, the whole process has been a learning experience, and perhaps I'd be able to address these problems in some way.

Big Issues with Taming Dreams

The biggest issues people had with Taming Dreams were the following:

It's not MARDEK
On the one hand, using MARDEK as a foundation for Taming Dreams allows for the resurrection and eventual conclusion of an old work that many people are fond of. On the other hand, it's sacrilege because too much has changed.

#Lack of gameplay/sidequests#
As a 'social' gamer (according to ∞ Bartle gamer types ∞), characters and their relationships are the most important part of a single-player game for me. As such, Taming Dreams focuses primarily on dialogue and story and neglects the things that 'killers' or 'achievers' would want from a game and as such is deemed 'boring' or 'without gameplay' (though the agitation system does at least provide something for them, it's apparently not enough). 'Explorers', too, seem put off by the lack of sidequests they can discover.

The characters are immature and caricatured
This is the biggest thing getting to me at the moment, and something I want to devote much of this post to, since the characters and story are supposed to be the most important part of the game. Some (presumably older) players have said that they feel they've moved beyond the issues the characters represent, and other people have said they can't relate to the characters because they're not 'realistic' enough, or they're so predictable that they're just dull.

#It's on mobile and/or might never be finished#
Many have taken issue with the platform I've decided on for the game, and insist I should publish on Steam/PC instead. Others expressed concerns that since the game will be so many episodes, it might never be finished and as such isn't worth investing in at all.

I'd like to talk about these issues as if I were remaking the game from scratch to address them.

It's not MARDEK

I can't imagine that there are all that many people in the world who fondly remember MARDEK and are awaiting a continuation of the series. Perhaps they've all already played Taming Dreams. A new audience wouldn't care whether it was like some old Flash game or not.

Even so, it's obvious that many of the old fans see MARDEK with rose-tinted nostalgia glasses, and compare Taming Dreams to fond memories rather than more objective criteria. A recent negative review criticised Taming Dreams for its immature characters and excessive lewd jokes... even though the original MARDEK had as much - or perhaps even more - sexual humour and its characters were written by an ignorant teenager and it shows.

If I were to start anew, I'd use a cast of original characters to avoid these comparisons. I just wish I'd done that in the first place... though maybe I'd still be criticised for making something other than MARDEK IV.

I've been meaning to write a proper post about why I didn't make MARDEK IV; I'll still probably do that someday relatively soon.

Lack of gameplay/sidequests

Taming Dreams is very much on rails. You're taken from one event to the other, and while you can chat with your allies or NPCs, neither produces any 'gameplay-related' rewards.

To remedy this, I'd structure the six-episode revision like this:

Each episode would include a small hub town and surrounding dungeon-like areas, and there'd be a number of NPCs spread around this small world. A few story scenes would occur to set the episode's themes and goals, but after that you'd be free to wander around and explore at your own pace.

For story-related reasons, you'd have the power to essentially enter into people's minds in order to tame their inner demons (as miasmon), and in doing so you'd rescue them from themselves. As such, every NPC you encountered would lead to agitation, and by 'winning', you'd help/cure them. Some might require you to do something (like fetch an item) before you can enter their mind, while others wouldn't. Once you'd saved a certain percentage of all the NPCs in that episode's world, you'd be able to challenge a more important 'boss' character by venturing into their mind and taming their inner monsters. This would move along the story and lead to the next episode (with some deviations from this formulaic structure to keep things interesting).

I like this because it combines all four of the Bartle type goals. Each NPC would have their own little story, and by going around and talking to them, you'd learn more about them, the world, and your own characters. You'd simultaneously 'conquer' and 'help' them, and of course it'd be possible to 'get 100%' by taming all NPCs rather than only as many as was necessary.

It may also lead to greater replay value and, well, it'd feel more like a game where the player has an active role. I only wish I'd decided to take this approach with Taming Dreams from the start.

The characters are immature and/or caricatured

I don't know How To Write. I'm not a Writer. As with all my skills, I'm a self-taught storyteller... and as such, those who know better can tut-tut at my efforts and tell me that my characters are either flat or exaggerated; sometimes both. I've been thinking a lot recently about how I write characters, and what I could or should have done instead. I've been reading about the standard structure and elements of stories, and I'll refer to what I've learned in my descriptions here.

I find a lot of characters in other media quite dull because I always want to know about their deeper psychology. I don't so much care what they do, and I don't want to hear silly jokes or 'badass' one-liners; I want to know about their tragic past, their personality type, their worries and insecurities. Things I - as a broken, lonely, anxious person - might be able to relate to. In my own characters, then, I exaggerate these facets and give them undue focus; they talk about their innermost issues 'all the time', and - while this to me made them seem remarkable and deep - to others it just seems awkward, inept and unrealistic.

'Unrealistic'. We're familiar with and accepting of stylised graphics that are used to represent - rather than accurately depict - reality. Characters who, for example, have exaggerated proportions - huge heads, eyes, expressions, etc - so then the parts that define them most are most visible. They become caricatures, and in my opinion this enhances appeal... But I know that some people seem to prefer only graphics that are dark, gritty and 'realistic'; where people scowl in greys and browns with proper proportions and all that. Realism = good, apparently, and the further you stray from realism, the worse your work becomes.

The same may be true of psychology, too. Much as I've given the characters big heads and eyes and bright, vibrant colours, I've similarly exaggerated their mental traits so then the most interesting (to me) parts are at the forefront much of the time.

Do you find cartoon characters physically attractive? It's an odd thing that we do, because they deviate so much from what real humans actually look like. Would you be drawn then to characters with similarly exaggerated mental traits? Though they're not 'realistic', is that necessarily a bad thing?

I honestly don't know. I wrote what I like, but it does bother me that others don't feel the same way.

What is it that grips people about some stories and not others? It seems that having a clear protagonist who serves as your avatar in the fictional world is one of the key parts of storytelling that I myself have often strangely neglected. In MARDEK and in Taming Dreams, Mardek is the character you start as and play as most often, but I never tried to tell the story from his eyes, as such; if anything, he's just sort of there, and the story focuses on multiple characters relatively equally. In Taming Dreams episode 2, it's more about Deugan and Meraeadyth than Mardek. The overall story would focus more on Rohoph than his host. And yet this leaves the work feeling empty, boring, perhaps; there's no clear hook for your consciousness to attach itself to...

If I were to start again, I'd make one key protagonist, as I said last time, and the story would be hers. It'd be about her, and her desires would drive the plot. Others would join her, but they'd be additions to her story rather than taking centre stage in their own right.

Desires. Apparently stories are all about a character wanting something, and striving to achieve it. While each character in Taming Dreams has that to some degree, Mardek - the supposed protagonist - is notable in that he deliberately doesn't. Perhaps that too is a reason there's no clear gripping hook.

However, while all characters want something, the difference between a two-dimensional character and a three-dimensional one - it seems - is the fact that 2D characters single-mindedly pursue that desire without changing, while 3D characters learn over the course of their story that what they want and what they need are not the same, and change within, conquer themselves. Taming Dreams is all about this kind of growth, which is why I personally felt that it was relatively deep, but I don't know; maybe people were just criticising for the sake of being critics.

I'd very much focus on this difference between wanting and needing in a revision, if there is going to be one. That was always meant as the whole point of the plot anyway.

However, often stories succeed or fail on the strength of their villain. Taming Dreams has no villains, as such; instead, it's meant to be that everyone is their own worst enemy. The revision would probably be similar, but perhaps I should rethink this and try to add some appealing antagonist for those who are drawn to darkness... The best antagonists represent something about the protagonist - their own worst traits - and I know exactly how I could explore that in the story I've already sketched out.

People have said that the characters in Taming Dreams are immature, that they themselves are beyond the issues they explore. I imagine a large part of this is because the characters start (sort of) as children. While I did that because MARDEK does that, and I did that in MARDEK because I really liked the idea of watching the characters grow up (and in doing so you'd grow up with them, in a sense), I'd probably use adult characters for the protagonists and would focus on more relatable issues that apply to everyone of any age. I do still feel that Longing, Identity and Judgement - those three False Ideals - apply to most people no matter where they are in life.

Steam & Mobile

I'd like to write a proper post about this soon, but here are some of the key points that led to the decisions I've made:

- I like how I can play on my mobile in bed! And I like how you can play it anywhere you'd read a book, rather than being stuck at your computer. While I understand the concerns like "I can't get immersed while playing for five minutes in a waiting room", isn't the same true of books? I've enjoyed playing long, in-depth RPGs on the (3)DS, and mobiles aren't too different from handheld consoles.

- Almost everyone has a mobile device, but far fewer people have Steam or play PC games. I've been told by professional game developers that the mobile market is the way to go, and that it's intimidating for those who target PC or consoles because mobile games (good ones, at least) make much more money and are easier to make and manage.

- It's easier to publish on mobiles than on Steam. I don't have to go through the greenlight process. I hoped that if my mobile games became successful, I'd rally up enough support to get a Steam version greenlit.

- I don't know how I'd handle the episodic format on Steam, both technically (I know of no way to integrate Steam's shop data with Adobe AIR) and conceptually (though I know episodic Steam games exist, I don't know how appreciated they are). I'd rather release a full game - as many have said I should - but it'd take years to get to that point with all 18 episodes of Taming Dreams.

So my plan would be to release episodes when they're done on mobiles so then I get money semi-regularly, rather than having to wait until the whole thing is done before I got anything. I'd also build up support and interest for the game over time. When all episodes are complete, I'd release an enhanced (based on ongoing feedback) combined version as a pay-to-buy game on Steam. Attempting a six-episode revision of Taming Dreams would probably work best for that, because I could very likely finish it before the end of this year, while Taming Dreams would take much longer.

In conclusion...

I made mistakes when working on Taming Dreams, and I'd like to correct them by writing a six-episode game with the same general engine, but which allows for more 'gameplay' and less 'boring' linearity, in a way that appeals to all four types of gamer (or at least all except killers, who prefer more visceral experiences).

Rather than writing the whole first episode only to have it rejected, instead I'll write openly about my plans here and get feedback as I go along. That way, I can tweak my work and grow while creating, rather than working in a vacuum and crashing emotionally when it isn't beloved by all at the end.

To stress: I'm not abandoning Taming Dreams at all. If I do do a six-episode revision (and I don't mean to promise that I will; I might learn from attempting it that I like Taming Dreams more), I'll return to Taming Dreams once that's done. It's all about having some kind of 'safe base' to build upon at this point, and as of yet Taming Dreams isn't it.

(OR maybe I could just make a one/no-episode game instead of making the mistake of planning too big of a road ahead?? HMM...)
If you liked this, please click the Appreciate button there

on 19 Roots


17 Romania
Jordan Hale
Atleast theres hope,Sorry for my Rudeness ,There will be no mardek and Maybe no more games like they been before but i will stop and Come here later with hope to find Any game he Released that is good, Also XCOM 2 is Out Today Give it a try, Is Amaizing what Firaxis Dev Team can accomplished,
I Accept there will be No More MARDEK That's Fine by me,goodbye
17 United States
I look in the comment section, and man there are a lot of haters out there who're butt hurt that you didn't create Mardek 4. My response? It's fine, don't worry about it. Tobias, your work is great and I bet that there are many people on Alora Fane that will stand by you even if Taming Dreams doesn't go well, and we'll support you no matter what. Ignore the haters. Listen to the critics. In the end, Taming Dreams should be something you like, not something that you hope to impress others with. Screw the haters, and make a game that you want to make, not something that others want.
30 United States INFP
I am not talking to you, Jordan Hale, but to anyone reading your comments.

Well, kids, here we see a living demonstration! Emotional outbursts like this one are best made in private, into a pillow possibly. Not in the permanence of text, so publicly.

So next time you're feeling helpless and scared and angry that you're helpless and scared and lusting LUSTING so violently for something you're DEARLY missing, missing with a missing that tears at you and anguishes your mind with echoing terrors....

In private. Possibly into a pillow.
19 United States INFP LII SoSp RLUAI AIE PhlegmaticSanguine
Giving someone else the rights to MARDEK would likely mean the little revenue they still generate would be lost to him. He would never, ever have the rights to work on it again. And it would likely deviate hugely from the charm they once held.

Oh, and hiring a dev team would cost money and end up generating fairly little returns. Which, again, is not what he needs or wants to do.
19 United States INFP LII SoSp RLUAI AIE PhlegmaticSanguine
I realize you are upset.

I realize you really want MARDEK 4.

But there comes a point where you just need to accept that it is not happening, and that these alternatingly pleading/attacking comments aren't changing that.

Taming dreams holds many stylistic similarities in writing, though I honestly can't tell if you hate it because it's not MARDEK and never played it, or you outright did not enjoy the game.

Either way, insulting his game so non-specifically and blatantly is purely rude.

Telling him to get a dev team (which costs money) is not going to make him get a dev team.

Telling him Taming Dreams is 'Sh#t' won't deter him from his creation.

Telling him he's a disappointment only states your warped view of him.

You hate him because you're not getting what you want, and while that's understandable, that toxicity isn't going to get MARDEK 4 either.

You may not like it. But it's reality. Your insults and demands aren't going to earn you what you want.

I'm sorry, but that's something you'll need to accept.
36 Bulgaria
Jordan Hale, I find your (ab)use of capital letters mildly annoying. Maybe it's just me, so never mind that.


For more:

∞ LINK ∞

Thank you. :)

(And should you care to know, the technique I'm using here is called "mirroring." It's supposed to let people see themselves from outside. Why it usually makes them mad is one of the great mysteries of the human psyche ....)
32 Argentina INFJ EIE SoSp RLUAN IAS PhlegmaticMelancholic
Woah woah... rude much?

You know there are other ways to voice your thoughts, right? You're not gonna be taken seriously if you act like this.
36 Bulgaria
I finally have the time and mindfulness to read the post properly. I find it both enjoyable and thought-provoking. (So what's new? :)

I'd only like to add another perspective to this point:

"If I were to start again, I'd make one key protagonist, as I said last time, and the story would be hers. It'd be about her, and her desires would drive the plot."

Have you read Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen? It is a multi-volume epic fantasy, whose real "epic-ness" stems from the author's decision to throw in dozens of protagonists, all of them equally important. Erikson goes as far as undermining the very idea of major and minor characters; as an anthropologist, he's well aware that everyone deserves the spotlight in equal measure--especially if we wish to gain a deeper insight into their nature.

This is what I truly enjoy about TD: that I can gain insight into the nature of not just a single protagonist but a whole cast of diverse characters. It carries the sense of community ; as opposed to the individualism of focusing on a single character. I've had my own share of loneliness and isolation, so I deeply cherish anything that can instill a sense of community.

And I do want to know how everyone will keep growing: helping or hindering (which often turns out to be another type of helping, less obvious ;) everyone else. My heart is sufficiently large, my mind, curious enough. :)

(Thank you, IAmNotSmartest, for the tip on inserting italics. :)
19 United States INFP LII SoSp RLUAI AIE PhlegmaticSanguine
I think I'd agree with you, partially. But you know how there are different types of third person perspective; Objective, Limited, and Omniscient.
As of now, it seems TD is the latter, omniscient. We see into all their thoughts and feelings, and I quite like that.
Third person Limited also is appealing - to know the mind of one character allows a total focus on understanding them fully.
Objective is the only one I can't see working.

Oh, and to use italics, insert '/' on either side of the phrase.
21 Czech Republic INFJ EII 451 SoSx RLuAi SAI MelancholicPhlegmatic
Hello there. It's been quite a while since I have said something here. I haven't stopped caring at all, it just seems like if my mental capacities were growing dimmer and less exploitable as I am making my progress at university. Or ageing or anything.

Firstly, something I wanted to mention on occasion of your previous post, originally, thanks for bringing up the memories of the AFC! I remember spending much time with it. I would design the worlds and write the characters' dialogues for hours, neglecting whatever people usually do in their lives and the sense of satisfaction once the sort game had been made, was definitely worth anything. I perfectly understand it is not one of your priorities for the moment and should you decide to access it again, I will be pleased.

I would like to relate to what you mention about creating and how it works like in one's head. I've been into writing for some time, firstly dreaming about being (among many others) a book author as a child, then actually trying to write something, just out of curiosity, for fun. Initially, I was fascinated and I felt quite proud of myself, knowing I am able to be creative in some way. I realise there's nothing special about making up stories during one's teenage years, but I didn't care about it back then. So when I was in mood, I sat to the computer and started to play with the words. I would consider it an intelligent and satisfying pastime. I liked it and that was all I needed. This is how the things started.

Slowly, I began to realise that being creative bears a great deal of work done with my mind. I think I've become more modest and respectful towards the process itself. I started to feel somewhat responsible for what I had created, even if there was nobody I to whom I would present my work. (Which has more or less still remained by nowadays.) I learned that having an idea is but a beginning and if one is to come up with a book, a music composition or anything, there is a whole eternity full of struggles, doubts or reworking the parts that were considered done already between the beginning and the finale.

I know it may sound obvious and resemble to something we may hear in many prefabricated phrases (I believe I did so many times), yet I'm glad I've gradually come to such a conclusion about the creation. I learnt to appreciate others' work and the effort they put in it, and appreciate those who remain despite all of the dark moments. Such as you, should you apologise my indiscreetness.

It really helped me to realise it is important to keep myself humble and patient. Dealing with the setbacks such as the lack of inspiration or self-criticism (which I've watched to develop within me too) is an essential part of the creation process and despite its nastiness, it is important to be aware of the faults, as it's probably the only meaning of one's development.

At least, if there is nobody serving as a guide or mentor, which is my case as well. I haven't received any formation in creative skills, I have never been to a single writing course, nor followed any advices given by the professionals. I've learnt to analyse the texts I am reading, trying to access the author's possible states of mind, identifying the features I found interesting and trying to reproduce them in my own way. I have no insurance that what I do is efficient and my attitude may show to be completely wrong during one single true lesson. I think that with more being discovered on my own, it becomes less likely that I will ever decide to obtain an official education in this way. I've got used to the way I self-teach myself.

I'm not sure how apt I am to rate the dialogues in your games, but I would like to tell you I've been never put off by their form or by what they say. When playing through TD (thought it was still called MARDEK back then - I haven't got to play enough of the new version), I was never struck by the characters' mentality. It was clear to me it is not very realistic to communicate my deepest emotions to an elder lady I have just met in the forest.

But I find that Taming Dreams just isn't meant to portray what is real or likely (because I definitely know what your intentions are and hence, I have the right to decide what is your game meant to be or not!) As it consists of battles explicitly representing dealing with feelings, it seems fitting to me that the characters stress out their inner state and try to understand themselves. If their characteristics were more casual, I think they would quite contrast with the rest of the atmosphere the game has. Moreover, I suppose that the emotions the characters represent are real. Or true, which might be a better word. True worries, hopes, doubts... I can relate to them easily.

I must admit that my nostalgia towards the old MARDEK is strong and persistent. It might have been about five years ago when I played it for the first time and what seemed as a nice RPG turned to be surprisingly meaningful. I like returning to it, reading every word of the dialogues (which I didn't earlier) because it reminds me of my excitement, of the times of my early teenage years which I obviously idealise and consider perfectly happy compared to my life today. MARDEK is something tightly bound to my past and I wish it remains so. I admit I was saddened when I had learnt you wouldn't continue with the next chapters, but now I consider MARDEK complete in its state. I certainly don't expect you to make nothing else. I want to keep my nostalgic memories and idealise them. How egoistic of me!

(Not to mention that with each playing through MARDEK, I find more and more of common it shares with your later games.)

I understand you would like to focus on a project with definite length and general schemes that can be altered. I hope it comes out as smoothly as you will be willing to allow yourself. And I'm glad you're not giving up on Taming Dreams, either. If nothing else, I've become very fond of the new Mardek character, with his good-willed naivety and the most sincere view of the world. He represents the kind of carelessness I do envy many people!
30 United States
I see the arguments for the mobile version, and they're not wrong. However, if someone is going to spend the time to game today, I'd figure them to just outright go into game mode on a more concrete platform. Either that, or be like me and go laptop on the bed, which works fine with accommodations. However, the main difficult aspect of the mobile platform, in my estimation, is promotion. There are no ads on a phone to direct them to you, so despite being on a mobile, I'd think your primary advertisement is still on PC, and there's where the difficulty in promotion lies.

If someone decides they want an RPG on a mobile, to the best of my knowledge, they look up that keyword, and then sort through an absurdly long list of other games without much information to go off of. Even if someone was that dedicated to finding an RPG, picked your game out, and wasn't offput by the cost, there's no real community on there to change your mind, and there certainly is limited mouth-to-mouth interaction for further promotion.

I could be wrong about all of this. However, I'm sitting here at the moment after staring my phone down for days trying to juice every little bit out of it to get a mobile game to work, period. It's not *that* old (though admittedly a little "unique"). Just having a smartphone isn't enough to be a reliable customer for you.

Overall, I feel like if you want a gamer's community (particularly one which players find other players and self-promote), I think the PC is just the way to go.

And sorry in advance for the lecture post. Grinding for days for nothing leaves me on the sour side of things.
25 United States SanguineCholeric
You guys always leave long comments haha.

Just have fun with your project. Simple as that.
25 United States INTJ
I seriously think you misunderstand your audience. You keep writing about these assumptions and basing your views off of them, and I feel that's a major problem with your outlook overall. Here's a few examples:

"old fans see MARDEK with rose-tinted nostalgia glasses"
This is an assumption, because you're assuming that the old fans are wrong from the start. You assume that because YOU don't like MARDEK, old fans who do must be seeing something wrong. But have you considered the reverse? Maybe there was something in MARDEK that YOU are missing, that old fans enjoy. For example, MARDEK had parody elements that generated interest for RPG players, which was wholly and inherently positive. Remember "I'm actually four blokes!" ? That was hilarious! And MARDEK was full of those. Taming Dreams drops the parody element completely, and the more serious tone is received differently. It's not about "comparing against nostalgia," it's about what an audience is receptive to. You are quick to say "MARDEK was made by a naive, immature teenager and is completely flawed and terrible game" and you assume the audience will automatically agree. But in reality, the audience is simply remembering all the great things in MARDEK that you claim don't exist. Which leads me too:

"even though the original MARDEK had as much sexual humour"
Again, have you considered the idea that MARDEK could get away with it, where Taming Dreams cannot? I was one who wrote that literally every other statement in Taming Dreams is about sex, and it's true. Arbitrary NPCs make jokes about sex, the kid's parents can't stop talking about sex (completely indiscreetly, btw), and after the tiresome repetition about Meraeadyth and Mammarys I was literally groaning about how much there was. But I don't remember sex being as "in-your-face" as it was in MARDEK - maybe with Emela and Elwyen, but that was still part of the RPG parody (because male lead always has female companions, etc). The point is, in MARDEK it was laughable and parody-like, but for the seriousness of Taming Dreams, the sex talk is just jarring and unnecessary to your story. Especially when they are still minors - it makes your game seem "too adult." It's not like Disney mentality, where the content is hidden to appeal to both young and old - it's so obvious and risque I'd hesitate to let a kid play it. But again, this isn't a problem with audience nostalgia, it's a fair reaction to your game's content.

Then there's the fact that you keep saying "girls would like this" and "boys wouldn't like that." It's almost as if you are segmenting your audience down to a "desired demographic," which means there's a "nondesired demographic" as well. If someone complains, well, obviously they weren't desirable, so screw their opinion. Which is problematic in general; I don't think I need to go into why.

I think this is your current major problem with your game, and I reflected that in my rating. You are writing for yourself and what YOU like, and that's fine... but you're then expecting others to like it by default, and scapegoating any negative responses onto irrelevant issues. If they don't like it, they're just not mature enough, or they're too masculine, or too attached to beating things with swords... they haven't given it a chance, they liked the old MAREDK too much, they don't appreciate stories with emotions, etc.etc. But NONE of that is true. Your audience is your audience, nothing less. You can't segment them down into "types of gamers" or any other nonsense. Right now, it's primarily your close followers. That's why the reviews are so heavily positive without a lot of substance - you asked people here to rate it highly so they did. Some did with alts. But there's nothing more to it than that. The problem is not in the audience, because they are simply reacting. The source of the reactions is what should be addressed, even more so because it's the only thing you have control over.

I'm more than willing to go into more detail, but I think I've rambled enough. The bottom line is: you can either create for yourself, or you can create for an audience. You haven't been looking at Taming Dreams from a player perspective, only a developer one. The developer knows the future story and knows the character arcs. The player only sees what they are given and it isn't nearly as much. The developer knows the inner emotions of the characters without having to write them. The player NEEDS them written or they feel shallow and dull. I could do this with every negative example, because you've painstakingly addressed each one this way. I seriously think you need to reconsider your audience before doing anything else as a developer.
32 Argentina INFJ EIE SoSp RLUAN IAS PhlegmaticMelancholic
"Then there's the fact that you keep saying "girls would like this" and "boys wouldn't like that."

From what I've seen in the gamer world, preferences are pretty unisex. I have female friends that play shooters and male friends that enjoy cutesy things, and a bit of everything. Games don't go well with gender preferences, it just... doesn't work.

I personally enjoy simple-looking (even gender-neutral) characters rather than overcomplicated art. When artwork is simple, personality stands out much more, and the characters become more attractive that way. But that's just me.
36 Spain
What an interesting point of view!

But I want to share mine too :)

From my point, a creator knows himself through his creations, so it is important to him to be honest with what he creates, because if he doesn't (thinking of "the audience", for example) he will miss the chance of knowing, growing and expand his consciousness thinking too much in other people interests, what they are waiting for him, what they would like... follow that way, he will be no more a creator, nor an artist. He will be another thing. An artificial one. Even "one more", if you ask me.

On the other subject, I can see the great things that Mardek had, as I can see the greater things that Taming Dreams has. I can see through the game and in a way that allows me to know his author and get in touch with him. I really enjoy the personal stuff, the feeling that there is a person who is giving all he has into this. That is greatness to me.

And I also see that creation is a life-process. Who knows where will it lead to him? I feel my own curiosity and happiness araising with each post. And I love it.

Finally, the greater an artist is, the less he cares for what others think about what he creates... (that's why, on other ages, they usually died poor and alone, what I think have changed, fortunately, at this time)