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Writing Progress!

Posted by A Tobias 3 years ago
It's been a few days since my last post, so I thought I might as well write something saying that I'm still working!!1

I've been spending almost all of my time writing out brief summaries of each possible 'MARDEK IV' episode, and I've got about 20 planned at the moment. Chapter 1's been turned into two, chapter 2 is six, and then there are a whole bunch for chapter 3's events though I've not yet finished them. I've also been writing out character bios and tons of pages full of notes; about 50,000 words worth of planning over the last less-than-a-week.

One of the big things about chapter 3 was its non-linearity, which I won't be able to keep because of the episodic structure. What I've done instead is have the party split up constantly, so each episode follows a different set of four characters from the last, usually. I like this kind of thing in stories and used it in my earliest work (Deliverance is an example); I also planned for the original sequel to MARDEK 3 to work this way.

I wish I could talk about some of the plot ideas that I've actually had because I really LIKE a lot of them, and I'm excited about them, but blurting them out would just be too spoilery and might ruin the experience rather than enhancing it! Especially if people just hear a snippet of information in isolation rather than seeing it develop in its proper context.

It's interesting looking at the results of the ∞ favourite character poll ∞... I just hope that I don't mess up any characters that people currently like.

Mardek, Deugan, Emela, Elwyen and Gloria are for the most part unchanged... Or at least the changes I have made are fairly minor and only attempt to add extra depth and meaning to things that were already there.

Donovan and Sharla are mostly unchanged, though I feel I need to do more with them because they're (unsurprisingly) rather unpopular. I feel that's probably because of their very limited skills as much as anything. I'll be curious to see if people grow more fond of them if they're made less useless in battle, and there are episodes where they play key roles. I'd consider removing them completely, but their involvement in the story that I currently have planned is too significant for that.

I've changed Steele quite a bit after hearing thoughts about him being way too one-dimensional and unlikeable. He's still not going to be a nice person, but his involvement is more interwoven in the plot now and hopefully there's some degree of interest to his story even if he's not the most sympathetic character.

Legion, Solaar and Zach are, uh... quite different, however! I had to change them quite a bit to fit the setting, but I hope that I've made them more interesting while retaining at least some of what people liked about them. I'm particularly excited about what I've done with Legion, but... spoilers!! Actually, I think I'm excited about what I've done with all of them, but I can only wait and see how players react. They all have more story importance though, especially due to the whole fixed party thing that basically forces plot events to revolve around the current up-to-four characters.
Legion's gimmick is the same, but I think I've given it some extra depth and potential for humour AND plot involvement. Solaar will probably keep that silly speaking style (or at least A silly speaking style), though she is now a she rather than an ambiguous xe, and while there are still 'alien' elements to her backstory and personality, she's got more direct involvement in the story rather than just being someone who sort of tags along quietly for a flimsy reason. As for the Zach character, well... That'll be a surprise, I'm sure. I didn't want to stick with a gruff mute though, so that character speaks more and also has some significant story involvement.

Also, mentioning Zach there confirms that that isn't the character I've removed, I suppose!

Oh, and I haven't done any concept art since the last post, as I've been busy writing. Converting chapters 1 and 2 only took about a day each, but chapter 3's taking a whole lot longer.

Another big thing I've been doing is a lot of renaming, of both characters, places, concepts, etc. Some examples:

- Of the playable characters, Legion, Solaar, Zach and Meraeador have all had their names changed; the latter two only slightly but the other two completely! I always hated the name 'Solaar' (it originated in something I made as a child, and it shows), and it bothers me that Legion seems eerily similar to a Mass Effect character that I didn't know about at the time and even now haven't even seen because I don't play those games.

- Rather than training to be 'royal knights' at 'Castle Goznor' or whatever, Mardek and the rest are training to be 'Seraphim' (plural of 'Seraph') at the 'Cloud-Clad Castle' (try saying that ten times in a row!); a castle on a hill that's constantly wreathed in clouds. These Seraphim play the same role as the knights - they go out into the world to help with problems - but I thought it was more interesting to portray them as 'angels' that come from a cloud to help out; their visual design would probably look sort of paladin-like. Seraphim in training are known as Cherubim.

- The 'elemental crystals' are now known as the 'Mementos of the Aolmna', or MotA ("the MotAs that run the world"), and I've developed a whole complex cosmology around them that actually makes some degree of sense (I tried to explain it here, but it was waaay too long and hard-to-follow when blurted out all at once!). Playable characters equip 'memento' items to learn skills, and these MotA are very much the same thing but to the Aolmna (Alora Fane's estranged 'gods'). Each one represents a sentiment, and their 'temples' are called 'sanctuaries'; the Sorrow Sanctuary contains the Sorrow MotA, for example. They also have more of an emotional effect on the plot, since characters who become close to them are strongly affected by that sentiment. Similar, in a way, to the 'violet crystal' from the original (a concept that has been completely removed with this version and replaced with different ideas with a similar end result).

- Aeropolis has been replaced with 'Heropolis', the capital city of the Bronze Archipelago where the Courage MotA can be found inside a large ruby tower called the 'Blood Sword'. The whole city is (oh so sensibly) built over a (mostly flat) volcano, with a battle arena built over the lava-filled crater.

I suppose this is in contrast to big-budget comic book adaptations, which tend to retain the comic book names but change the concepts they actually apply to beyond recognition. I'm keeping most of the concepts the same but changing their names to something I feel is more interesting.

Anyway, I'm planning to start building a basic engine today... or rather, I'll be adapting the engine I built for the latest incarnation of Miasmon, which shouldn't take very long.

On another note, I've been neglecting messages for a long time now!! Sometimes people send me private messages or emails or things like that, and while I intend to reply, I often simply don't have the time to give the kind of reply that I feel the message deserves... or I start writing one out but get super-critical of my own wording and abandon it half-way through.

I've got a fairly large backlog of messages that I'm going to try going through at some point soon (I hope), so if you contacted me and I didn't reply, this is why, and hopefully I'll be able to get back to you soon! Sorry about being so unreliable with this! I suppose I've never been any good at correspondence...

There are a few feedback posts about Yden here on this site that I've been meaning to get around to in particular, though I suppose I directed my focus towards MARDEK for a while instead of Yden, so I wasn't in the right state of mind for it.

Actually, I may as well say what I've got planned at the moment, which is this:

- I might try to focus on MARDEK to the point where I've got the first episode made and playable, at which point I'll release it to beta testers only.

- I may or may not then release it publicly, but only on my own site.

- I'll work away at the second episode, and then when BOTH are done, I'll release them both together to Flash portals in order to draw attention here. I feel that the first episode isn't very strong by itself, but the second one redeems it; I'm sort of stuck with that fantasy sequence from the original, and there's only so much I can do with that... Episodes 1 and 2 together would effectively be a remake of the original Chapter 1, and could be compared directly with it, hopefully favourably.
I'll also start a Patreon thing around this point, probably mentioning it at the end of the game, saying "support the development of future episodes by donating via Patreon!"

- I may wait until this point to finalise Yden, so then it might have more weight behind its release. If I release it now, I can imagine complaints ("why have you worked on that and not MARDEK 4?!? I hate it because it's not MARDEK!!"), but if I release MARDEK IV episodes, then people will know what's going on with that and might be more likely to support Yden.

I don't know how closely this will match reality, but it seems like it might be the best way to go about it!
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1 Comment

23 Netherlands rloax SanguineMelancholic
Whoo, more MARDEK!! I always like hearing about that, as I'm sure I've already said way too many times now. But I'll say it again anyway!! Whoo, more MARDEK!!

It's nice to know you've still got a lot of excitement about MARDEK, having so much planned in advance can only be a good thing and it makes me wonder just how you tackled things for the third chapter. I'm really fond of the idea of parties changing up a lot, I liked that aspect of deliverance, and it could lead to interesting dynamics between people that never got explored in the old versions.

I was rather surprised Zach got as many votes as he did, I wonder whether part of it was fear that he might be one of the characters to leave or something? I personally voted for Elwyen, but I also considered Legion and Meraeador, probably because I've got fond memories of using them in the parties I found the most fun to play through the game with, they're such a strange bunch when put together.

I had no problems with the five you didn't feel you had to change much, so I'm glad you decided to keep them mostly similar, it makes me wonder what you did to expand their characters.

I did like how Sharla felt like she was relatable in many ways, you could probably say you know someone who is like her unlike most of the other cast, though their limited skillsets did put me off using them, especially Donovan.

I'm glad that you're doing things differently with Steele!

I am rather curious what you're going to do with Legion, it sounds like you've got something interesting planned, and I'm glad you're not spoiling it, one thing I like about this reboot is that it feels like so much is new even though there's already a strong familiarity too! And I hope Solaar keeps the weird speech pattern, that always amused me. :p

The new names will probably take some getting used to, but I'd rather characters keep their personality than their name, the former seems like it holds more importance.

The new Guard and 'Crystals' sound interesting and less plain than they used to be, I'm curious how they'll turn out. Also, "Sanctuary of Destruction" sounds rather amusing to me.

Heropolis is a very Bold name, yes!! I could easily see Bartholio coming from there, or Aalia being its princess. O.o I do wonder whether the people living in that region have a distinct skin colour and culture from the ones living around Goznor and Canonia and such.

I like your plan (ESPECIALLY THE PART ABOUT THE BETA TESTERS), it does make more sense to do something AF-related to open AF with rather than Yden, and Patreon would mesh well with an episodic game like you have planned. I aso wonder how big of a splash a MARDEK reboot would make on game portals, since I assume MARDEK still has a place in the back of lots of people's minds.

Anyway, whoo, more MARDEK!! I hope you can keep this motivated, because it sounds like you're making a lot of progress!