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Tobias
3236 36 108

My Mon Games

Posted by A Tobias 7 months ago
Pokemon's popular again. I like this, because I've always liked Pokemon, ∞ as I wrote at tedious length in my personal blog ∞. Making a Pokemon-like game myself is probably the idea I've returned to the most over the years, and that flame has been rekindled by Pokemon GO. Before diving into yet another project I'll fail to finish, however, I'd like to revisit and review my old attempts at making a monster catching game; what I feel worked or didn't.

There's something about Pokemon that I suppose appeals to the hunter/gatherer instincts within us. Most games have things to kill and things to collect, but it's rare that the two are combined. The Pokemon you collect can be your pets, your friends, your army... It's easy to see why it's remained popular all these years without changing its formula at all.

It certainly spoke to me from an early age, and one of the very first games I tried to make - before even Deliverance, years before MARDEK - was an attempt at a Pokemon clone. I desperately wish I could post a playable version here, terrible and very unfinished as it was, just for the sake of my own reminiscence if nothing else, but sadly it's long lost; probably on the hard drive of some computer I replaced years ago. These days I back up everything in multiple places, but it didn't occur to me to do so then. If you have anything on your computer that you made, which can never be replaced, back it up, or you might one day regret it!

Beast Signer

I returned to the concept around the time I was working on the first MARDEK, I think (somewhere between 2006 - 2009, according to the file dates), in the form of Beast Signer: a game with a post-apocalyptic setting where humanity now lived in a persistent virtual world, which was infested by code aberrations called 'beasts' that could only be dealt with by capturing ('signing') beasts and using them to fight other beasts... or something. It wasn't the best or most thought-out idea in the world.



Nor was it well-made. I think it's a good example of the sort of greed that possesses many amateur games developers, myself very much included. A desire to include an epic world and story, tons of varied and interesting features, content, etc... The feature creep and bloating that destroys projects if unrestrained.

For example, there were six elements - the same as the main ones from MARDEK - which were paired up with each other to form 36 combinations (fire/fire, water/earth, earth/water, etc). Each of these combinations had its own egg, which had its own large 'growth chart' (an idea which - like much of the game - was influenced more by Digimon than Pokemon).



Each growth chart had 17 different forms, so the total number of beasts was, well, vast. Many hundreds.

And at the time, I thought it seemed reasonable, too. I thought I could make that much content by myself, and that the more content, the better and more engaging the game.

I shake my head at that naivety now.

But there's more. Battles were full of what I thought then was variety, many options. You could summon three beasts at a time, and the 'signer' could participate in some form too by summoning or using items on their turn, or attacking the enemy signer directly once their beasts were defeated (or you could just attack wild beasts directly; you didn't need to summon at all).

Each beast could use a basic non-elemental 'Strike' skill, or a basic 'Soulstrike' skill for each of its two elements, or some species had a 'Statustrike' that had a chance of inflicting a status condition, OR you could use basic stat-boosting skills (none of these cost anything, and all beasts could use them), OR you could choose from a set of special skills unique to that species.



There were 30 skill families, each with up to ten skills. Each beast species had access to up to three of these families, and would learn one skill from one of them when it evolved. Beasts could be 'merged' with one another, destroying both parents but producing an egg of their paired primary elements which would have a higher max level, and it would keep all skills it knew before... So it would have been possible for one beast to know every skill in the game.

It was all ridiculously complicated; typical of the mechanics seen in Digimon games, which change in every new Digimon game for good reason (while Pokemon mechanics are essentially - and pleasingly - the same between generations).

And it wasn't fun, either. I replayed this game the other day for the first time in years, and getting to the 'end' was a tedious chore. In most battles, I selected Strike repeatedly for every monster because their unique skills were generally worthless. I sometimes used Soultrikes, but the paired elements thing led to unsatifying and unpredictable damage multipliers like 115% (which I know because the game explicitly shows the number in order to get around how confusing and unintuitive it all is). HP was too high and damage too low, so battles just dragged on, straining my patience.

I could also talk about how deeply bland it all was...

The monster designs are deeply uninspired, for one thing, though that's such a big topic that I'd like to write another post about it instead of trying to address it here.

The dialogue made me cringe (as is often the case with my old games), the characters all sounded pretty much the same or entirely unconvincing...





The 'visual language' as a whole lacked any kind of distinctive personality, most of the GUI was not easy at all on the eyes...





It's important to look back on early work and see its flaws like this in order to see what you've learned since then, or what you can continue to learn from your past mistakes. So if you're one of the few who remember this game fondly, I don't mean to tear it to pieces or anything. Sorry about that.

There are some things I like, though mostly because they bring back fond memories of a different time in my life and mind, or because I made them. We all find some odd pleasure in even our bodily emissions just because they're a part of us. Things like the music in this game are much the same to me, even if they're objectively unlikely to win any awards any time soon (other than perhaps 'Most Ears Bled' or something).

I tried (briefly) to resurrect and restart Beast Signer (as I do) a couple of times...



Though I never got past designing visuals for the battle system.



Apart from the incorrectly-embedded font in that one (which is why it's in tiny Times New Roman), I was quite fond of it back in 2009. I'd say it's a shame I never went anywhere with it, but considering what Beast Signer was, it's probably for the best.

So that's Beast Signer. I learned a lot of lessons from it - even if I didn't know it at the time - and while I don't think it's a good game and wouldn't recommend it, it was a necessary step in my development as a developer, I think.

∞ It's playable here on Fig Hunter ∞ for the curious.

I can't remember why I gave it up. I think MARDEK 3 just got all my attention.

But then, later, I think it was the release of one of the Pokemon generations that inspired me to return to this territory...


Miasmon

This time, it was in the form of Miasmon, a game where you trained monster-like illusions that formed out of the 'miasma' in response to thoughts and feelings, as in MARDEK. The setting was a planet called Fracture, which had been shattered to such an extent that its crust orbited a naked fiery core in the form of (miraculously inhabitable) floating islands. Archaeology was a big part of the story; people came to Fracture to learn about its history and the extinct sentient species who used to live there, the Elarna.



Both Beast Signer and Miasmon had monsters that weren't really alive (computer code, emotion-illusions) because I wanted to avoid the idea of real animals tearing each other up for humans' amusement... A trend I've continued as I've refined the miasmon concept over the years.

I started Miasmon in March 2011, and I know this because I kept an archive of its various iterations. Fittingly for a game about archaeology, I'm going to present its history here, as I personally find it fascinating watching how projects came to find their final form, and perhaps someone else will be interested too.

Here's a screenshot of the very earliest version:



Beautiful, isn't it? I'd clearly learned my lesson about creature design, and poured my heart and soul into these concepts. I still weep with delight at the sight of them in all their glory.

I made the mistake in those days of diving straight into development with the intention of figuring things out as I went along, which meant that many things had to be completely redone as I continued to work on the game and change my mind about its details.

Once some ideas actually started to formulate, I envisioned the game as being to Pokemon as MARDEK was to Final Fantasy. That is, a sort of parody that played with the familiar formulae while still being engaging in its own right rather than just a throwaway joke.

With that in mind, I thought it'd be interesting to tell the story from the perspective of the Professor archetype who always appears as a key - but mostly background - part of the Pokemon formula. The protagonist, then, became Francis Marmalade, an old scientist who came to Fracture to research the 'Ancients', but inadvertently found and reverse-engineered 'gauntlets' that could be worn to capture and control monsters that formed from the miasma. Monsters killed his wife during the process, however, and he grew resentful when his work on the gauntlets was widely released and training monsters became a fad, as it took the attention away from archaeology (and, of course, because they killed his wife). He became a hermit to avoid it all, but the story began when two young archaeologists came seeking his aid.



That's him talking to his dead wife in a pixel font I made that I later deemed ugly and replaced.

Since Fracture was another world, I wanted it to look as such, with unfamiliar colours... But it wasn't working, psychologically. It just felt wrong rather than intriguingly otherwordly, as my art skills weren't adequate to convey what I hoped to.

I think this was the time that I was working on those art skills, though, finally learning how to 'draw properly' after years of just putting pen to (digital) paper and hoping for the best. It's then that I tried doing proper detailed sprites, inspired by those of the Generation III Pokemon games...



...And I was also trying to do proper concept art of characters, rather than drawing them directly into the game without thought as I always had in the past. I felt that the professor protagonist - while interesting - just wasn't working, and instead decided that the player could choose between a male or female younger archaeologist instead. I named them after colours, in Pokemon fashion: Zaffre and Cerise.



My art skills back then weren't great (though I know there are people who'd get annoyed at me saying that if that's better than what they can do), because I was naive, and still beginning my journey of self-improvement. But still, the point was that I was actually trying to think things through, to plan and design rather than just using whatever mind-farts came up, unrefined, as I had in the past.

I know this must seem blindingly obvious to a lot of people, the idea that it's best to plan things in detail before starting work on them, but to me it was an epiphany; I really did think in the past that my improvisational way of developing was sensible and sustainable, and after this change of direction, everything I'd done in the past seemed so foolish by comparison.

Anyway, skipping ahead, I also played Miasmon before writing this, but unlike with Beast Signer, it wasn't a chore at all. If anything, I was sad when it was over; disappointed that I never did more with it.





I spent a big part of my life on it - at least two years, I think - and it's very much like MARDEK in that it's stupid, in a silly kind of way. So different to the deeper sort of stuff I might pretentiously try to do these days. Some of its humour makes me a bit embarrassed since it is from years ago, but I feel it's a huge step up from Beast Signer at least. I never much cared for the story or characters (other than perhaps the two protagonists), but I feel it was a fun enough little world to spend three hours in.



I feel that the battle system is massively superior to Beast Signer in particular. It has its issues, of course, but it's simpler, and much better for it. The Digimon influences are mostly gone, and it's very much a Pokemon clone. Again, I got greedy in some regards - instead of having just four skills, monsters could have twelve - but simplification in other areas somewhat made up for it.



The levelling and stat systems were based on Dungeons & Dragons, where each individual point means a lot. I never really liked how in games like Pokemon and other JRPGs, you had a bunch of stats with high numbers that weren't really within your control anyway; they just got bigger as you increased your level, and that was that. And they got much bigger, so a Pokemon might have a stat with a value of 8 at level 1 and 315 at level 100 or something. I just found it personally more appealing how a character in D&D would be considered essentially superhuman at level 13 and with a strength of 18; how every point or level really felt like it meant something, so getting a magic ring that increased a stat by a single point actually felt valuable.

I also had the stats display in battle, and altering them became a big part of the gameplay. Skills that raised or lowered them did so by a random number of points, so there was always a feeling of tension and chance which evoke emotions that certainty can't.



I was also fond of the ability to choose your own skills when levelling up; another idea from D&D. Monsters all started with two skills, but each species had a list of skills it could learn, and every odd-numbered level you could select a new one (and every even-numbered level you could choose to add a valuable point to a single stat). This form of controlled, customisable growth appeals to me more than all the more random things like Natures and IVs that Pokemon have, where even if you know what you want, you either have to be patient or cheat to get it.



I'm uncertain about other gameplay aspects, however. You acquired monsters not by catching them in the wild, but by defeating enough of a certain species to gain its 'essence', which - once you had 100% - you could use to 'clone' members of that species infinitely for a small fee. This meant that you didn't have storage boxes cluttered up by monsters you had no intention of training, but it also meant that the clones were, well, clones; it was more difficult to forge a personal connection and story with each one because you knew you'd just created it and could easily create others identical to it. It's a minor thing in terms of objective mechanics, but I feel it makes a big difference in how the player engages with the experience on a psychological level.



I'm fond of the music, too. I liked the Beast Signer music as well, since it was made by me, but I feel that Miasmon's might actually be okay on an objective level too. I mean, it's nothing compared to what a professional could do, and there are some bits that are still harsh on the ears, but it's something I'd be happy to show off to a stranger with a sort of pride.

The game as a whole is, actually, and I'd recommend at least giving it a go if you never have before. ∞ It's on Fig Hunter here ∞ (though I may upload a slightly-tweaked version here and more publicly soon?).



Sadly, I gave up on Miasmon... I don't remember the details too well, but I think it was because my girlfriend had dumped me, I was struggling immensely to manage Fig Hunter, my anxiety and depression were at their worst, and the less-than-thrilled responses of beta testers made me feel - with a deep sigh - like I should just start the whole thing again (not their fault; they were trying to make the game be as good as it could be, but I'm too much of a perfectionist and felt the only way to do that was to start from scratch). Basically, I was going through a terrible time mentally - fallen into a hole I've only recently made significant progress towards climbing out of - and this happened to be one of the several projects that met its end because of that.

A shame.

I did however continue to cling to the concept in the back of my mind, entertaining the idea of returning to it in some form one day.

Evolving Art

During 2013 - 2014, I went briefly to university to study Video Games Arts, and in my free time while there I experimented with more planned-out and stylised monster designs based on the old ones from Miasmon.





I enjoyed it, so I came up with some new ones, too.





This also seems to be the year when I developed the world of Alora Fane, and moved from a fairly bland visual style...



...to something more stylised.



I was working on my 'voice' as a designer, honing the skills I'd only ever been an amateur at before (I say, as if I'm anything better now!). Most of what I produced during this time were private studies and experiments that I used to develop my skills or learn new ones.

(I also worked on something called 'Programon' for a while during this period, which was a redesign-of-sorts of Beast Signer, but I can't seem to find any files of it... Maybe they're lost too. Odd.)

In 2014, with a couple of years of hard art study under my belt, I redrew some of the Miasmon characters as Alora Fane races:



Cerise, as a Meek.



Zaffre, as a Bold.



Francis Marmalade, as a Bold.



And Sienna, also as a Bold.

I think it might have been the release of Pokemon Generation VI that rekindled my interest in monster-catching games, just as the release of Generation V had largely spurred the development of the original Miasmon.

As I was going through a stage of self-doubt and uncertainty, what with being single for years, struggling with isolation and depression and the allure of suicide, getting older, failing to find meaning in life, trying to do something that would 'mean something' in order to address all those things and make me even slightly happy, etc, I struggled to make decisions and came up with various ideas for a 'New Miasmon', none of which really went anywhere.

Miasmon Farm Sim

I was trying to make the leap from Flash browser games to mobile apps, and one idea for that - based on what few mobile games I'd actually played - was a Miasmon farm sim.



As you can see, that didn't last long. You'd collect new trainers/archaeologists, assign them miasmon, and send them off to explore ruins and have battles and things... I planned it in detail, but my heart wasn't really in it, and I felt that - as always - I'd planned something too big for me to realistically finish.

Miasmon Perianth

I tried instead to make something smaller-scale, but relatively innovative. I didn't want to copy either Pokemon or Digimon when it came to monster combat or evolution. So I came up with the idea of what I called 'perianths':



Essentially, you'd have this core that you could insert 'petals' into (up to six, forming the Alora Fane 'aster' flower thing), and each petal would have a sentiment, associated skill, and its own HP. The petals that you included determined the form of your miasmon; Hide + Cuteness = Modestoat, Anger + Creepy-Crawly = Carminymph, etc. The form determined the basic attack, defence and speed stats (flowerily called Intensity, Stability and Alacrity).

Each miasmon had a speed bar (like Final Fantasy's ATB). When full, you'd click a petal on your perianth to use that skill (or click the core to use a non-sentimental skill similar to Pokemon's Struggle). Skills would always hit ALL of the opponent's petals, though, and petals would absorb damage of their own sentiment. So if for example you used a Courage skill against an opponent with a Fear petal and a Courage one, the Fear one might be damaged heavily by it, but the Courage one would absorb the damage, up to 200% of its original HP. A skill's power would be tied to its petal's HP, so you'd actually empower the opponent by doing this. Petals would shatter when reduced to 0 HP, rendering them unusable for that battle and perhaps even changing the miasmon's form. Skills could also stun the opponent, pausing its speed bar temporarily.

Returning to it now, I don't think this is a terrible system... It's certainly much more interesting than Beast Signer's. But I wonder whether it's difficult to understand, and whether there'd actually be all that much strategy to it in the long run (it doesn't feel like there is in the workable prototype that I have).

I'm tempted to develop something workable and releasable out of it, but I don't think it's worth the effort.

Miasmon RPG (Again)

I thought perhaps I should try again to make a full-length RPG out of Miasmon... This time, I didn't get very far at all, though some of these early development screenshots are... interesting.



It uses the same graphics I eventually used for Taming Dreams (which - in the case of the tile style at least - originated in Alora Fane: Creation), and again starred the same characters and general setting, though now Fracture was a 'petal' of Alora Fane rather than a planet in itself.

It was similarish to the other Miasmon in mechanics, though instead of having up to twelve skills, you built up to six in a perianth:



You could have up to three characters on your party at once, each with up to six miasmon, and you could switch between them at any time (greed!):



When a miasmon levelled up, it gained a skill point, which could be used to add +1 to a stat...



...or to 'purchase' skills from that species' list:



These choices were reversible at any time from the menu, so if you made a choice you regretted, it didn't have to stick.

Skills had sentiments, which determined most of the type effectiveness, but monsters also had body types...



...which worked in an odd sort of way, with each body type being effective against the three clockwise in this cycle, and weak against the three anticlockwise. Since monsters could have up to two body types, it could be sort of counterintuitive.

As with all of these projects, there are things I like and things I don't about this one. If I were to return to it, I'd definitely give up the multiple party members, and likely body types, as they all add unnecessary content and complexity that creates an understanding barrier while offering only minor value or depth.

Pokemon's type effectiveness system is so enviably elegant in its simplicity and depth; it's intuitive enough, but offers so many possibilities. I wonder though how it feels to someone who hasn't had years to grow familiar with the type match-ups... Hmm.

Taming Dreams

Though that's the last time I tried to make a game based entirely around monster catching, I incorporated monster taming mechanics into Taming Dreams, though monsters became more akin to equippable weapons than pets that you raised individually.



I do think that the miasmon designs for that game were my best yet, though, and I'd like to do more with them!

Future?

The biggest thing that I notice looking at Pokemon - Pokemon GO in particular - and these old projects of mine, it's that simplicity is key. Bloating and complexity restrict access to a game by presenting a steep learning curve; baffling mechanics and awkward menus just put people off. But make a game where the entirety of the mechanics could be described in one sentence and, well, that's the key to wide success. "Easy to learn, hard to master".

I would neither expect nor want any game I ever make to become the next Pokemon GO. I'm not deluded enough to think I'm capable of that, and I couldn't cope with the pressure of it even if such a thing did happen.

BUT. I'm always influenced by the games I play and enjoy, and Pokemon GO is no exception. It'd be foolish to ignore the way that people have reacted to it, immersed themselves in it, and instead keep carrying on along an old road that might lead nowhere.

I've made little progress on my own games recently because I've been trying to work away at Soulmate (well, that and the brain tumour)... But the story's getting in the way. I feel that it's a story I'd love to tell... but it's difficult to write engaging stories; so easy to mess up and fail to engage or earn ridicule or cringe with embarrassment at your own efforts.

The Pokemon games barely have a plot, and Pokemon GO has none. While I've always thought that the plot is the most compelling part of any game, that I played RPGs because I liked engaging interactive stories, now I'm not so sure...

I mean, one of the biggest appeals of games over other forms of media is that you can make the story your own.

Pokemon GO has no built-in story... But every player has their Pokemon GO story, and isn't that a wonderful thing? It's the ultimate customisation, in a sense. You don't need some kind of choose-your-adventure style multiple choices endings to make every story unique. You just need to make a game that's a tool that the person can incorporate into their own story that's happening every day of their lives, or a world they can explore in a way that suits them without too many limitations.

In Soulmate, the monsters you'd tame would essentially be negative thoughts, as in Taming Dreams (except instead of forming from some abstract 'miasma', they're part of Oneira's mind, as is the game's whole world).

But what if I made a monster training game which was built around that concept?

What if instead of little, weak monsters evolving into 'stronger' forms, dark and negative monsters evolved into nicer, more positive forms the more you were able to use them to tame negative thoughts and improve your state of mind?

I don't mean some vast story-driven RPG... Rather, something which has the monsters and nothing much else. Perhaps several random monsters would appear for you each day, and you'd get a notification if they did. Then you'd be able to 'battle' against them (in the rapport-building sense) in order to train your own and tame them. Perhaps each would voice a type of negative thought when it appeared, and the positive version of that thought when tamed (as is the plan for Soulmate). I don't know.

Any ideas I have about this right now are vague at best, but I am wondering whether I could make something that's more of a 'conceptual tool' than an hours-long story quest thing. Something you can pick up and play and know fully within minutes, but which you want to keep picking up again and again anyway. Something I don't have to spend months on or plan as episodes in order to tell the story that I want to tell.

While I want to make Soulmate as some vast game available on Steam, perhaps making some monster-taming thing for mobiles now while Pokemon's popular would be wise. Or at least worth a try. I'll be able to look back on all these lessons learned and hopefully not repeat mistakes.

But I don't know. I just know that I've poured a lot of my life into Pokemon and my own projects based on it, and amidst the energy-sapping depression and my increasing age, the genre still retains its ability to inspire and uplift me.
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on 14 Roots

36 Comments

18 United States ENFP SEI SCUAI ISA PhlegmaticSanguine
HamBone
1
Like many other users of not only Alora Fane, but also Fig Hunter, I was pulled into this place by the joys and intrigues of playing MARDEK. I can, even now, remember the nights spent awake playing the three installments over and over again, finding every secret, talking with every character, fighting every battle...it was a sort of game that didn't just entertain me, it also sparked a feeling of great joy and wonder within myself that I can still remember feeling those 5 odd years ago.

While i'm not really a game designer, I certainly love games...I mean that's pretty much the reason I cared enough to write somethin' down here! For that reason, I have come to truly connect with the games I most enjoy. Personally, when I played Beast Signer for the first time I felt that it was a bit rough around the edges, but I still got some of those same enjoyable feelings that came to me every time MARDEK booted up...a sort of nostalgia that only an indie developer like yourself could create. And it is for that reason that I suggest that you continue making games, no matter where they take you and no matter what they are, because - while you may not believe it yourself - I can see that you possess the ability to genuinely connect with people via your games. I've stuck with this community for a total of five years because of how your games made me feel...and that's pretty spectacular.

While I believe there's some great potential in the whole beast collection/beast fighting trope, I simply don't want to see you get stalled out on it. I think we all can agree that you've done something for us by proxy of the games you've made that is truly special...at least I can! I don't want you to take this as a desire for you to stop working on anything Pokemon-related; i'd feel crushed if I dissuaded you from doing something you truly desired to do. Instead, I want to encourage you to pursue what drives you, because that'll inevitably drive one of us to do something great...heck I wouldn't have been drawing my way to even a semblance of skill at art if it weren't for those hand-drawn battle sprites in MARDEK to persuade me to at least try.

Regardless of how you view this comment, at least know one thing: i'm rootin' for ya', and I wanna' see you create something that will make YOU as happy as it'll make us!
22 United States
Summano
5
Hello

I would like to start by saying that I have been lurking this website along with Fighunter for years now. This is my first ever post and I made this account just for this post however I might be active and actually start using this account and posting here. It would mean a lot if you actually read this comment and even more so if you responded but either way I just would like to write what I feel.

I first discovered your games by playing Mardek 2 on Notdoppler about 8 years ago (wow I can't believe it has been that long). I was 14 at the time and am now 22 and I used to visit your site every day. I read all of your posts and would sometimes refresh the page every few minutes hoping that a new post would pop up. Currently I come to this site a few times a day and anxiously wait for a new post. I followed along you every step of the way waiting for both Mardek 2 followed by 3 and I played all of your other games during those periods.

My favorite of all of your games however is Beast Signer. When I saw this post and saw the pictures of Beast Signer, before even clicking "Read More....", I was super excited. I thought you were going back to (I'm slightly biased here) what I personally thought was your best game; even though you don't feel the same way. You said "It wasn't the best or most thought-out idea in the world" about the concept of the game even though the concept was completely original and I haven't seen it anywhere else before which is why I believe this was a poor choice of words. Coming up with an original idea in today's time can be extremely difficult and I felt you did that with Beast Signer.

For a game that felt like it was only about 10% completed, and as buggy as could be, there was a lot of content. Half the skills didn't work correctly and some beasts were clearly awful because their skills wouldn't work while others were just insanely strong but there was still hours of game play you could pour into the game. This (personal opinion) is the type game that would do well with periodic updates of adding skills and beasts over time and more gyms even if done slowly.

I feel like you contradicted yourself a lot in this post as well. You talked about how the game was poor also because of feature creep when 90% of those features didn't work correctly. You said playing through the game again you used strike most of the time when over half the skills in the game didn't even work (Oh yeah because those two are completely unrelated to each other.... /s if you can't tell). I'm not writing this to bash but more to defend the younger you that created this game because it was personally my favorite of your games.

Now I know that anytime you talk about any one of your games someone will rise up and criticize it or if you talk badly about it someone will defend it. I may just be coming off as someone who liked Beast Signer a lot and fanboying over it, so you can take my words with a grain of salt, but regardless statistics don't lie so lets just talk about that for now.

If you look at the amount of plays Beast Signer has on Fighunter it is about 80.000 and Mardek 2 sits at about 120.000. This game has about 2/3 the plays of a game you advertised on many different websites and is also a game that is part of a series. I remember when you did a post years and years ago about what game people wanted you to work on next and Beast Signer came in second and was not too far behind Mardek 3. Mardek 3 should have blown it out of the water seeing that most people on your site came to it because of the traffic brought to you by the Mardek series (from what I can easily imagine). I have directed many people to your site both in high school and even to this day and I can easily say a fan favorite from the people I know is almost always Beast Signer.

The point that I'm making is that even though you didn't like the game too much you can't necessarily say it was a bad game. It was super buggy and didn't work correctly and the game still managed to have plenty of game-play options and hours you could put in. Personally I played the game much differently than you. I used the elemental strikes all the time and sometimes that status strikes. I had a team of some magic monsters and some physical monsters. I felt like for a game that had very little skills and working monsters, there was still a lot of choices you could make. It is a little like Pokemon...

For those of you that aren't familiar with the competitive style of Pokemon battling there is a ton you have to worry about. Natures of you Pokemon, IV's, EV's, breeding to get certain moves, etc. The game has insane depths with thousands of combinations or different stats for a single Pokemon depending on how they are trained. The best part about the game though is it is very simple and straightforward so while having a high skill ceiling it has a low skill floor.

The game is easy to get into for beginners but has a lot you have to worry about if you take it more seriously and this is where I could have seen Beast Signer headed with all of the different moves, types, items, etc. It could have been even better if each Beast had a passive or ability of sorts but the point was that it wasn't lacking. For those who can beat the game using only strike and don't realize the other options that option still stands. But for those who can understand all of the features and fully utilize them, you could have an insane meta game and competitive type game if PvP had been employed.

The point is you definitely don't give this game enough credit. I am 100% taking the opposite side as you and if I had to recommend any game of yours I always tell Beast Signer is your best game despite never being completed.

I'll see you next post and look forward to hearing from you and hoping you read this. Anyways in the meantime I will probably be off playing Beast Signer, for about my millionth playthrough.
22 United Kingdom INTJ 694 RLUEI MelancholicPhlegmatic
xelada
2
I remember playing Beast Signer and loving it, so I replayed it and still love it, even if it in the part of the game where it would most likely be the least interesting (mostly larval beast with few thing differentiating them).
I also remember loving Miasmon and if/when you do make the tweaked version I am almost certain that I will continue to love it.
I can say without any sort of sycophancy, sarcasm or other fakery that those two games have better gameplay than any of the mainline Pokémon games.
However, then we come to Taming Dreams, this felt like a step back for you, the creatures felt, as you said, less like creatures you train/raise and more like interchangeable pieces of equipment. Additionally it never felt that there was no interesting customization(?), sure you could swap out which two creatures you had equipped, but all that did was slightly alter one action and sometimes alter what happens when you got hit; to make matters worse you could see other slots that theoretically could have had options but almost never did (I am aware of Meraeadyth's pendant but it is one item, one which arguably does more harm than good).
I am worried that with a move towards simplicity you end up sacrificing the things that made your games so amazing.
22 United States
Swordsmin
1
I feel like Mardek (circa Mardek 2 and 3) and Beast Signer had a rugged quality to them that had a strong impression on me. The old art and concepts appear to me still very valuable. But self inflicted artistic critiques would definitely render me unable to finish a project :P. I'm sure that selling the old concepts for someone else to bring to completion is not an option for you, especially considering what happened to Turok and Prince of Persia when they were given to the highest bidder. We still need to befriend the Annunaki if I'm not mistaken
20 Canada
Silent Riot
2
You're website is unique and even if there are a few others out there, the games they make are completely different from yours. I would wait months on end for your games when I was 13 just so I could play them. I'm happy you're not dead because it gives me something to look forward to every now and then.

"Pokemon GO in particular - and these old projects of mine, it's that simplicity is key"
Sure, but it's mostly the presentation of a concept or idea that touches people, reminding them of wanting to catch Pokemon as a kid. Pretty much any idea is a good idea as long as you know how to execute it.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
2
Thank you! Hearing that you feel this way about my work definitely helps me feel much more motivated about making it! Hopefully I'll be able to produce more things that you can enjoy!

Pokemon GO definitely does have nostalgia on its side, and I know I couldn't duplicate that. And it's true that execution is paramount, and that, as you said, anything has the potential to do well in the right hands!
17 United States
MaxDestruction
4
I still think you need to give more credit to the work you made before. I won't waste your time by droning about "It gave you the experiance you have today" because you already know that, but whenever I play through your games and come to the most cringiest dialogue sets, I still enjoy it and laugh. You poured your time and soul into those games, and you intended it to have funny cringey dialogue. I understand what you were going for, and the experiance of the game wouldn't be the same without it. As for the music you made, it was all really good too. I've been trying to make pieces in the piano lately, and my goals are to maybe create songs like the ones in your games.

Finally, your art's better then what I can do.
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
1
Thank you for saying this!

I probably sounded harsher in this post than I actually am; I do feel that - like you said - everything I've ever made has been some stepping stone to get to where I am now, and everything is a portal to a different part of my life too. And - more importantly - people have got pleasure out of these things I've made, so that alone makes me feel that they're worthwhile things! It's only because I want to keep improving that I try to see where I could do better.

I highly encourage you to keep trying to compose; it's a very worthwhile thing to do if you keep at it! Have you made any 'finished pieces', or is it more improvising at this point? Anything you'd share?
17 United States
MaxDestruction
1
Well, all of the songs I've created aren't finished yet and are still a work in progress. I usually go to a place with loud noises and become inspired from the different rhythms I hear. Later, I compose those rhythms into pieces at my piano, but I always have trouble continuing them because I'm not sure what should come next. Should there be a pause, a loud segment, or a smooth part? I end up quitting and losing inspiration after taking too long and being indecisive, and then I start working on a new piece. So really, it's an endless cycle of unfinished pieces. Maybe I should go back and continue them...

By the way, what programs did you use to make music on your computer? I'm thinking of doing that, but I don't know that many programs.
18 Indonesia ENFJ SpSo RLOAI SanguineCholeric
Rabidhura
5
I played through Beast Signer over and over again, not only because the design is interesting, but also the fact that sometimes, simplicity is better! Though I suck at the Arena because I'm just that bad with strategies :x

I also spent time playing through Miasmon and I have to say that it was a great game to spend time with! Could use some polishing? Sure, but I'm sure it's nothing that will require impossible effort from you. Still is a simple, but nice game to play with. I personally liked Zaffre's personality and the Carminymph - the bugger actually saved me on some occasions and its evolved form looks cool!

Taming Dreams and Miasmon RPG looks similar to me with different gameplay. I've never encountered any games that uses "feelings" and "personalities" as its gameplay mechanic. That gameplay mechanic also reflects to the characters as well. Taming Dreams gives this feeling of depth that other games could not.

I've not seen any screenshots of Soulmates yet, but I had this tug that it's going to be a good game as long as you put your feelings in it and mold it into a masterpiece that you can call your own and enjoy.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
1
I'm just glad that Beast Signer was appealing enough to be worth the hours you put into it! Knowing that makes me feel better about it myself.

I'm also glad you liked Zaffre's sarcastic personality! I got a lot of laughs out of that myself. Interesting also hearing about your favourite Miasmon in the form of Carminymph!

Thank you for finding the emotions and personalities thing appealing and intriguing; some people don't. Gives me more confidence about my own work to hear that!

I've yet to do enough work on Soulmate to have screenshots to show, though hopefully when it's done it's something you can get something out of!
18 United States INFP LII SoSp RLUAI AIE PhlegmaticSanguine
IAmNotSmartest
5
I remember pouring hours into Beast signer. Looking back on it, seems... a bit silly. But I did like notion of an 'alternative to pokemon'.

Miasmon's designs were awesome to me. They still are. And the same goes for Taming Dreams's, to an even greater extent (I still use Lavendeer as a profile image on Youtube, hah). I really do love your monster designs, throughout their renditions and generations.

The pokemon type-effectiveness actually does confuse a lot of people when they try it at random - my brother, for instance, refuses to grasp that water doesn't beat ice. And I still mess up on Fairy-types and their weaknesses. So maybe it's not so perfectly comprehensive as it'd seem.

As for that last project you mentioned in concept, I would like it - but not nearly so much as I love the ideas behind Soulmate. The notion of a player giving their own story and meaning to a game does work, but stories of their own, self-attributed meanings are far more successful (given that Literature is a thing that exists).

... T-that's not to say that either works better than the other inherently. It really is rather... up in the air.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
2
I surely poured even more hours into Beast Signer! Years! So it's not a bad thing at all. I'm just grateful that you found it appealing in some way! It's only with having something 'better' to compare to it that I see it as I do now; I certainly was quite proud of it when it was my latest game.

I want to use my Miasmon designs more! I'm glad you like Lavendeer enough to use it for that; it certainly is very cute!

Water beating Ice? Why would he think that? Seems odd to me! But no odder, I suppose, than Bug beating Psychic or Dark beating Ghost or any number of idiosyncratic relationships that surely would baffle a newcomer!

I definitely do feel I 'need' to make Soulmate, because like you said, even when there's a 'fixed' story, different people get their own meanings out of it anyway!
22 Norway PhlegmaticMelancholic
ashfire
2
Well, lots of people are scared of bugs and when you're scared its hard to think rationally. So it kind off makes sense that the psychic-type would be weak to bug, since it represents the mind amongst other things.
22 United States
Summano
1
Yeah if you haven't noticed Psychic typs are weak to all of the things people are naturally scared of. The dark, ghosts, bugs,. And then you know "brain over brawn" the famous saying is why psychic is strong to fighting. because having a strong mind is said to be more important than physical strength.
20 United States
Qazerowl
3
Pokemon's GO's appeal is not anywhere near the same appeal as Pokemon. Pokemon is an RPG. Pokemon GO is AR-enhanced geocaching. They are entirely different. I do not think your idea would scratch the same itch that pokemon go does.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
1
I completely agree! Which is why I wouldn't want to make a Pokemon GO clone or anything. It's more that it's rekindled old interests in me and inspired new ones; not so much that I intend to copy it.
20 United States
Qazerowl
1
Well, you've surprised me many times before... I think the issue I see with the idea is that you're approaching the blurry line of what a game is.
In a way, what you are describing seems interesting, but if I only get a few monsters a day, I'll quickly get frustrated that the game won't let me play more. Or even if the number of monsters in a day is perfect for me, I'd be annoyed to get 8 notifications at work, but then when I get home and feel like playing, I only get a couple.
Generally, when I want to play games, I want to focus on them for a couple hours. I'm not the kind of person interested in playing for a couple minutes at a time. Apparently that's more of the standard in the mobile market, I guess.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it sounds like a bit of a step in the dark, and the details are too vague to understand what's in your head, maybe?
24 Germany ISTJ 5w6 SxSp PhlegmaticCholeric
Fenix Shakura
5
It's true that games like Pokémon Go, Minecraft and similar don't have a plot, but every player has a story on their own to tell. "Player generated content" existed even before those games and always had an appeal. But they're also the lazy way out for developers.
It's also true that simplicity is key. That's why these two games, as well as the Mario franchise, but also many First Person Shooters and Casual games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush attract a rear -lot of players. But it's also what I personally think is wrong with the world. Not wrong in the sense of "evil", but wrong in the sense of investing countless hours into a monotounous routine that, when on your deathbed, makes you cringe with fear and exclaim in horror: "Oh my GOD, I have wasted my LIFE!"
A real game should always have the thing that both players and developers dread, namely an end. It's only natural, because all things end eventually. And preventing players from reaching said end eventually and moving on is just... well, wrong.
Also, please do not give up on meaningful plots. Aside from the motor and tactic skill training, story is the only other thing that make playing games worthwhile. A quote I have recently come across conveys the point best I think:
Quote:
You're only then a true entertainer, when you have a clear message that you can convey to your audience.
29 United Kingdom INFJ EII 459 SxSo RLxaI AIS MelancholicPhlegmatic
Tobias
2
Certainly food for thought!

I think my focus on content generated by users rather than myself recently is because it's a lazy way out, and a popular and potentially profitable one too; from the perspective of a developer, that's certainly not an unappealing thing!

But I definitely agree with you that games that are all about repetitive tedium and which leave no lasting impact outside themselves are, well, a waste of time.

It's why I'm so interested in making games like Soulmate, which very much intend to convey a clear message that would hopefully impact lives in a meaningful way, and why I'm currently trying to generate ideas for 'endless' games that still have some impact beyond the game itself. I'm being increasingly drawn to the idea of apps that are more like tools than distractions; things you use to augment your existing life rather than robbing time from it.

I definitely don't want to abandon the idea of story; I just recognise that it's quite challenging for me at the moment and it'd be nice to have something simpler first that I can use to develop a safe base on which to build such an investment.