Been cranking out work on Aleph and getting closer to a test demo release for Kickstarter backers. I realize that I said that a playable test version would be ready "soon" in the last update, but I admit that the necessary fixes are taking a bit longer than expected due to unforeseen circumstances. However, we are still plodding on and getting the game into a state where it is fully playable beginning to end.

Whilst the code is being worked on and the bugs being squashed, I have been endeavoring to make the appearance of the menus nicer, and thus far am pretty pleased with how they are shaping up. Here is a look at the revised Main Menu (still some work left to do on it):
The Item Menu is further along, as you may be able to tell from the various visual elements around the edges of the screen. Each menu has its own theme (or will once finished):
While working on sprucing up the menus, I also upgraded the dialogue/message boxes that appear when talking to NPCs, interacting with objects, and so forth:
You might be able to tell in the picture above that there is a graphical bug with the doors. I will address this a bit further down in the update.

In addition to upping the visuals for menus and dialogue boxes, I have been able to populate about half of the world with various items. I had to make a dummy project and create templates for each and every item that you can pick up, which is a huge range of items from weapons/armor to potions, reagents, furniture, food, etc. With all of the templates made, I have been able to copy and paste them all over the game world as necessary. I did *just* discover a small bug with a wall clock, where each version of this particular wall clock tends to change its graphic, alternating between a clock, a house plant, and a butter churn, so I have to hunt down the instances of this item and correct the bug.
This not only allowed me to populate the towns of the game with items that can be taken (taking items that belong to someone will lower your Principles), but also set up a whole bunch of random camps, ruins, and other nifty things out in the wilds of the world (in which there are a lot):
You can expect to come across camps such as this, among many other random things as you venture away from the beaten path.

One neat-o item I added recently is the Music Box. I thought that this would be a cool idea for people who like to collect things. What this item does is allow you to change the music to whatever you want, assuming you have found the necessary music gear for the song. Each song in Aleph is tied to a music gear, and each gear is somewhere in the game world for you to find. Each time you find a gear, it automatically goes into the music box and you can then play that song from the music box any time you wish.

So, what exactly is the hold up with the playable version of the game for KS backers? I will give a brief rundown of the issues that are yet to be quashed. There are more issues than what are listed here, but all issues are divided between High priority and Low priority, with High priority being issues that are preventing the game from being played to completion in some manner and absolutely must be dealt with before a playable version can be released. Low priority items are things that I would like to fix, but if they are included in the playable test version, that is fine, they do not prevent the game from being played to completion. List of High priority items:

*Background images are sometimes being drawn on top of choice/context menus, preventing the ability to make choices.

*Certain background images are being drawn on top of the Main Menu, preventing you from seeing the Main Menu.

*Different sprites with different number of animation frames are being drawn in an incorrect manner (they are being half drawn, like the doors shown above).

*Certain respawnable items, when picked up, slowly drift across the screen.

*Randomly spawned monster encounters are invisible.

*Item Weight is not displaying in the Item Menu, nor does it seem to have its intended effect.

*When reading books, the book graphic is displayed in an incorrect position. This is a result of increasing the game's resolution beyond what the engine originally intended. This is important because there is vital information contained within some books.

*Enemies in combat sometimes appear off screen or in strange locations.

*Game crashes when you try to drop an item onto another item or any spot where a trigger event exists.

The Low priority issues mostly revolve around adding additional information to menus (especially the shop menus), adding additional functionality, adding a leveled spawn list (so you run into new monsters as you get stronger), things of this nature.

A friend of mine has created a cool HTTP processing system which actually works quite well with Aleph. What does this mean exactly? It means I can push/pull information to/from my web server within the game itself. This means that I can create cool little features like leaderboards for you to compare your own progress. An example might be seeing the top 10 people who killed the end boss in the least number of turns (along with the number of turns they took), or see how much gold the top 10 players had when they beat the game, or any other number of measurable metrics. At some point I might make this a part of the Aleph system itself, since you already use it to view a number of things such as locations of items and places, monster weaknesses, etc, so it makes sense you can use it to view your relative progress/accolades compared to other Seers! Personally, I think that sounds cool.
The Wild Steam pack has hit stores (only RPGMaker has it at the moment, but Steam is coming soon -, and everyone has nothing but great things to say about it, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I worked for about a year on this one pack, going with an idea that I felt was rather unique to this particular sort of resources: modularity, allowing the user to create their own content with ease. As such, I have been working on an add-on pack which contains more equipment/clothing options for characters, along with more machine parts for Steam Machines.
Moving beyond the Wild West/Steampunk genre, I am revisiting Medieval times with the help of Shawn who has been invaluable in helping me with the spritesheets for Medieval themed clothing and armor. I know many people want different genres, but Medieval is without a doubt the *largest* genre for people making games, and it makes sense to get this genre up to date with my 2nd Generation resources before moving on to other genres, like Sci-Fi and Horror.

That's it for now, have a great week!
After a bit of a waiting period, Aleph has been approved on Steam Greenlight! This means that Aleph will be available for sale through Steam once it is up for sale.

Of course, that means the game needs to be finished, and I have been delving more and more into Aleph since the completion of the Wild Steam resource pack. The result is that there is a moderate list of issues and bugs that need to be addressed, which work will begin this week on these. These issues range from some game crashes (ableit under rare circumstances) to various HUD improvements, fixing the various windows to fit in the new higher resolution, and fixing some graphical mishaps caused by some newer code.

All of Aleph's fixes and improvements fall into one of two catagories: Things that need to be completed before another round of testing, and things that can be completed after testing, during, or whenever really. 

Once I get all of the things from the former category fixed (these are things that crash the game or prevent progress in some way), then I will open this newest version of Aleph back up for testing for all Kickstarters. The game will be lacking some things, primarily meaningful ending sequences ( I doubt anyone would get that far in testing anyway!), but should be in a state where you can play through it from start to finish.

Items in the non-essential upgrades category include more graphical improvements, better character sprites, more skills/spells for combat, things of this nature. 

I am replacing the old, very square and limited cliff tiles which were mostly imposed by the built-in map editor with some custom made tiles I made. I think they look muuuuuuuuch better!
One thing that I felt needed more emphasis was just what kind of game Aleph is. It is an RPG, yes, but it is not like Skyrim, or Fallout, or any other of those RPGs where you just do what you like, murder, steal, whatever. This is a game where your actions are weighted accordingly in context of seven Principles. These Principles are not just a game mechanic, they are part of the game world - the power that threatens this world is almost directly proportional to just how well you adhere to these Principles. If you go murdering and stealing, you will most likely not be able to defeat it. If you master the seven Principles, you should have an easier time overcoming it, along with all other foes.

In games like Skyrim, your actions are generally localized. You kill someone, sure, maybe some guards might hassle you a bit, but they are not particularly difficult to overcome, and stealing is generally a great way to get all sorts of useful items. There is no real penalty for it, typically just rewards. I want Aleph to be more of a moral RPG, not an exercise in sociopathic tendencies.

In that vein, I introduce the seven Principles in the beginning sequence of the game, something that was not there before.
Later this week I hope to have the work on the bugs and issues begin. Once these are all fixed up, I should have some of the new cliffs and such in place, and the game will be ready for some general testing to find more bugs (there are always bugs!); the test version will have some mismatched graphics as the transition in cliffs and character sprites and what not are undoubtedly not going to be complete. 

Anyways, I wish everyone a Happy New Year! 
Large strides were taken in recent months (it's been awhile since I made an update, I realize) to really improve the overall gameplay and presentation of Aleph. 

First and foremost, the resolution has been increased a fair bit from it's former 640x480, which was way too restrictive. I am also currently working on possibly letting you the player adjust your own resolution to increase performance or screen size as you see fit . Here is a comparison shot of the old resolution with the new (the top picture being the new):

Aside from the larger resolution, you might have noticed some other new items. The trees are all new and vastly improved, there are new animated fog and cloud overlays for all exterior maps (they look awesome), and they now carry over into battle as well. 

One of the major visual upgrades are not yet shown - new character spritesheets with a MUCH better animation (the monsters retain their last upgrade, this only applies to the main characters and NPCs). This also means much nicer combat animations as well! When I have all of the combat stuff integrated, I will post a video - the new backgrounds, new animations, larger resolution, animated HP/MP bars, new effects, new animated clouds and fogs - all of it combined make for some really awesome battles. Here is a look at the new main character walking animation:
Much smoother than before! I have had to go through the various art (title art, game over, the overlays, etc) and update them for the new resolution, but the end result was definitely worth it. 
Moving on from the visual aspect of the game, a lot of work has been done to balance out the various stat numbers and formulas, with the awesome addition of making stats effect a great number of game elements. Previously, the formulas were relatively simple with Strength equating to the damage you deal, Defense being how much you can take, and so forth. Now, every stat effects a number of sub-stats. Strength does factor into damage, but each point also increases your counter-attack probability; each point of Agility not only effects your combat speed, but also evasion and  hit chance; Luck effects how likely certain status effects will stick, but also influences critical hit chance, critical evasion chance, and experience bonus multiplier. Further, for every skill and spell, more stats are included in their various formulas. The Luck stat plays a small role in most skills and spells in terms of damage or healing. A number of bug fixes have been made to various skills and more tweaks made to overpowered monster abilities as well.
One of the biggest hold-ups for Aleph was the implementation of all of the critical NPCs. Thankfully this is now completed, and more quests have been added. You might have noticed a Quest Log at the top of the first screenshot - there is now a log to track the various tasks in the world. They do not give you an arrow pointing the way or anything, just a reminder in the event that you forget.
Before moving back to open testing, I want to finish updating the character sprites. More coding still needs to be done and a few bug fixes implemented, but the open testing should be coming along soon if all goes well.
The Wild Steam resource set is approaching its final form. This pack definitely has taken the most amount of time out of any, but I think it is very worth it. This pack is the first in a 2nd Generation of resources; this new generation focusing more on letting YOU build what you want instead of just receiving a bunch of pre-made items and that's it. 

As such, you will receive well over 600 Steam Machine pieces - these are individual pieces of art representing various mechanical pieces, pipes, gears, wheels, wings, levers, you name it. You take these pieces and, like a Lego set, you put them together however you want to create your own Steampunk-inspired machines! They can be as simple or complicated as you want. Here are some examples I (and a couple testers gave permission to show some of their own constructs) whipped up quickly (sorry for the small resizing on some):
There are also a bunch of animated pieces like wheels and turbines to let you create your own animated vehicles and machines! Here are two different versions of the same concept machine I whipped up:
But Steam Machines are not the only thing you can build with this set. There are hundreds of individual pieces for you to build your own animated characters as well - everything you need to create 4 and 8 direction walking and running spritesheets, idle animations, poses, and even animated side-view battlers! It doesn't end there, either - you will also be able to build your own character Paperdolls, Busts (8 different facial expressions for each) and Facesets (same 8 different facial expressions). You simply will not find this amount of customization in any resource pack anywhere else.
Each of the above animated characters were assembled in about 2 minutes using the pieces in this set. You can make literally thousands of unique characters. Further, moving forward in additional 2nd Generation content, there will be more character building pieces which will all mix and match perfectly with all other sets, meaning you can have millions of unique characters, as simple or as complex as you want. 
Of course, in addition to all of these pieces that let you build your own characters and machines, there are also a number of tileset pieces for you to build your world. I aim to finish this set in time for Christmas, maybe earlier if I can. 
Developed as part of the 2014 Indie Game Development Competition, Ashworth was created in a mere 30 days. Ashworth was made using primarily the Mythos resources (from the Resource section of this site) mixed with some High Fantasy and custom resources.

Taking place in the fictional New England town of Dalwick circa 1930's, Ashworth is a psychological mystery RPG that gives a nod to the likes of HP Lovecraft with some inspiration from real-life events. You play as Robert, a young man who finds out that his mother has committed suicide. Attending her funeral in the town of Dalwick, Robert quickly discovers that his mother is not the first nor last in a string of strange suicides in the town. In fact, since stepping foot in town, Robert has been feeling a bit... off. Seeing things out of the corner of his eye, paranoid thoughts, and stranger things lurking within his mind free themselves of their mental chains and come forth. Whilst combating his own decaying mental state, Robert must discover the cause of his mother's suicide and uncover a much darker family secret.

If you want to check out Ashworth, you can download it for free in the Games Section!

My friend Dekita over at Dekhyde Studios (who has been helping me with Aleph) has been working on a neat system that will let you create your own card game, similar to Magic the Gathering. I made a few concept pieces for him - no clue if he will use them or not, but I thought they came out pretty nifty so figured I would share a few of them:
Each card is actually built from a bunch of different layers (and this is how he will let you customize your cards and decks). There are different backgrounds, different frames, different images, different overlays, and so forth that can be used. If you want to find out more, go check it out here: DekitaRPG.
I rarely ever talk about things going on in my personal life, but there are two bits of joyous news I would like to share, which also helps explain why some things are taking longer than expected. 

 I was offered a job creating graphics for a game company that is presently making mobile games, but might branch out into other platforms in the future.

 I am getting married (love you honey!)

So with that happy note, I bid you farewell for now! Have a great Thanksgiving!
The Humble Bundle

Well, been a little bit of time since I made an update! Things have been busy, and I have been clipping along with various work. Firstly, I am very honored to been included in the RPG Maker Humble Bundle promotion. I donated three of my resource packs to their cause, which joined the works of a few great artists to create a sizable amount of content.  The Humble Bundle contained roughly $300-400 worth of game-making resources including several RPG Maker game engines and an epic ton of resource packs, all of which could be gained for about $12 (if you donated less, you would receive slightly fewer items). Best of all, the money went to two great charities. Win-Win for everyone involved. But the best part... this Humble Bundle deal became the single best-selling one in their history, raising over $1.5 million in a week. They went on to sell more bundles through the Humble Bundle store afterwards as well. It was a gigantic success, and it was awesome.

A Game In 30 Days

Following the excitement of the Humble Bundle, the Humble Bundle crew teamed up with the kind folks at RPG Maker to host the 2014 Indie Game Making Contest, complete with celebrity judges. The top prize listed at $10,000, with other prizes as well - quite exciting! I could not help but enter this challenge. As such, I present to you the game that I whipped up during that time: Ashworth.
I used the basic engine I am using for Aleph as the foundation for Ashworth, and used primarily the Mythos graphics I made. This is a very H.P. Lovecraft-inspired game, though it is also inspired the real-life story of Rosemary Kennedy. I made a page on the RPG Maker forum for my entry, so you can check the game out along with screenshots, and even download it here:  Ashworth - RPG Maker Forum

After wrapping up the resources for the Humble Bundle and Ashworth, I delved back into the world of Aleph. 

I juuuuust about finished adding dialogue to all of the NPCs in the game. Some of it is pretty basic that I would like to spice up, while the rest is pretty much complete. I had to rework one of the Kickstarter quests due to a bug, but it was not too bad to fix. 

Speaking of bugs, I discovered a bug with NPCs in towns other than Gleanessa, that if you kill them while they are angry with you (perhaps from killing another NPC in the town, or excessive stealing), then that would also turn the entire town of Gleanessa against you as well for really no reason at all. Further, the NPCs would gain unnatural speed whilst in this angered state, and would violently bump into you and spam their dialogue. So, needless to say, I have been fixing this problem, but it is a problem that has to be fixed one NPC at a time. 

I've added yet more magical weapons and armor in the world for you to hunt down using the Aleph system. I am trying to make them of varying power, but unique in purpose so that they are not merely interchangeable with each other. 

Due to another bug, I had to rework a part of the Magic Spell equip system worked. I originally wanted to make it so that wearing high-end cloth armor (like Wizard robes) would increase the number of spells that character could have equipped. However, in the end, this kept spitting errors and game crashes at me, so for now this is removed and there is no way presently to exceed the number of spells that can be equipped by default. 

I am not 100% sure why, but Aleph does seem to run a bit smoother now as well. Before the Humble Bundle, IGMC thing, I went through all of the graphics and made them into smaller file sizes, so it is possible that things just load faster now and overall that has increased the speed of the game. At any rate, I certainly won't complain about it.

Last but not least, the Wild Steam pack also continues to progress nicely. I have decided to start including modular pieces so that users can quickly and easily create their own graphics. The steam car, steam train, crane on the left side, and most of the machinery in the above picture are all assembled from the modular pieces, each one only taking several minutes, though this will depend greatly upon the user.

Although I've made about two dozen characters at the moment, I am thinking of scrapping their sprite sheets (keeping their face sets, busts, battlers, and all the other stuff though), and re-doing them through another method, following along with the new love for modular graphics. I'll post more about that when it happens and I have something to show for it.

Much has been done to further along Aleph in recent months. A great deal of code has been optimized and fixed up, more new art implemented, the battle system and other various game systems have been tweaked - it is coming to the point where I will be releasing the new version, made on the new engine for testing in the near future.

Code-wise, a great and powerful coder has been helping me recently and has squashed numerous bugs that were preventing me from being able to go to round 2 of testing. He has also vastly improved some of the game systems as well, which I am very grateful for. He is in the process of fixing one last set of bugs, and then this version will be ready to be tested, which means it will be distributed to the good Kickstarter folk.

Art-wise, I have fine-tuned some more of the environment art as well as faces and battlers. I whipped up icons which look a lot nicer than the placeholders I had before as well. All-in-all, graphically just about everything is in place - still a few minor tweaks and adjustments needed of course.
The code has been implemented and fixed for the addition of Runes and Augmentations. Runes can be affixed to weapons and armor which will grant them certain abilities or alter their stats in some way. Runes are primarily something you must craft using Inscription. Augmentations are items that you can enhance each character's skills with to give them additional characteristics, such as increasing the amount a heal spell heals, or making a fireball also deal earth damage, for instance. There are many items that can Augment skills; one of my primary goals was to make almost every item useful in some way, and many items are useful in numerous ways. Monster-drop items can be used as stand-alone Augment items, or can be used in the crafting of special weapons or armor, or even be used to make Runes to attach to your equipment. 

Speaking of crafting, I have finished implementing all of the ground work and most of the recipes for numerous crafting specialities: cooking, blacksmithing, tailoring, alchemy, carpentry, fine-crafting, gem-cutting, and inscription. You do not need to level up any skills to access any of these - all you need is the proper tools and the proper crafting materials. In some cases you might need to be in specific locations, such as near an anvil for blacksmithy, or a fire for cooking. Some crafting materials you can procure in towns from various NPC merchants, but most you will need to gather in the wild. Different plants and herbs grow all over the world, and nodes for various ores can be found in the mountains. Different forests yield different kinds of wood for crafting, and of course monsters generally carry some sort of useful crafting material. Chimera Hide leather breastplate anybody? 

A good friend of mine has helped me out immensely by creating a bunch of skills for monsters to use in combat, which is great because I was beginning to have a creative block from staring at them so much. Aside from boss encounters, all of the monsters now have their fundamental skills and spells in place, along with their strengths and weaknesses and basic stats. A lot of tweaking and balancing is in store for this, but that is where testing comes in. I played around a bit and found that with good strategy, a group of level 1 characters with basic iron equipment are capable of killing some moderately powerful enemies, like Gazers, so strategy is something that must be taken seriously in some of these battles. They are meant to be difficult! 
Numerous other changes and additions have been made to the game as well, but it would take more pages than I care to write to list them all. Just know that the next testing phase will be coming in the near future, after this last round of bug fixes.
With the Monster Legacy resource pack finished (and I am told it will be coming to Steam somewhere towards the end of this month), the next resource pack in the making is the Wild Steam bundle - a combination of Steam Punk and classic Wild West themes. 

In all of the other resource packs, I only made one face graphic for each character. The Wild Steam pack will be the first where every character has 8 portraits and 8 faces for different emotions. This is one thing that has been requested more than almost anything else.

Not much more to say regarding Wild Steam just yet - plugging away at it bit by bit! Here are some samples from the pack thus far:
I hope everyone has a great week and I will let all y'all know more about Aleph and Wild Steam in the near future! 
Aleph Update

Time certainly flies. I posted an update on Aleph, looked away from my computer for but a moment, looked back and its been several months. Whew!

So just how is Aleph coming along after migrating to the new engine? So far the frame rate is higher and more stable than the previous engine, even with more objects on screen at once. I feel that this optimization was very important because some early testers reported having bad frame rates and screen skipping even with little going on on-screen.

In the previous blog post I mentioned I was working on a new random encounter system. That random encounter system has been successfully completed and implemented for monster encounters that are truly randomized, drawing from pre-defined pools of monsters which are defined individually on each map/section of the game. This system handles everything from automatically setting up the on-map sprite of the monster utilizing a 'weight' system, the biggest monster is chosen to represent the group, along with its event-based graphic and combat encounter. 

How items are examined has changed drastically since the last build of the game. In the old build, the player would choose the 'examine' option from the context menu and get a description of the object in question. Now, it is all automated; when the player gets within x spaces of the object (and objects are sorted through a hierarchy), a display is shown on screen that has a face graphic if applicable, a color-coded title if applicable, and flavor text. 

All of the monsters have been completely redone and fully animated for battle. The chief complaint from the previous version was the lack of animation from the battlers during combat, and that is all taken care of now. There are nearly 200 unique monster battlesheets, and it really does make combat far more lively to actually see the monster swing its weapon, reel back in pain, and collapse to the ground in a heap upon death. Similarly, all of the main characters have had this overhaul, too, along with the finalization of a system that swaps out the animation graphics depending on the type of weapon the character is equipped with (so a character holding a sword will have one animation, but if they then equip an axe, they will have a new animation during combat instead).
In the realm of combat and crafting, I have been working diligently on an 'Enhancement' type system that will allow the player to enhance pieces of armor or weapons, granting each one unique bonuses. This will take the place of the old Passive Skill system and will add a LOT more customization. There is a wide range of potential enhancements from having a weapon or piece of armor inflict poison damage, cause Mute, confusion, do additional damage, grant bonus defense, increase critical damage, increase counter-attack chance, and so forth. You can turn your Iron Longsword into a one that saps mana from your enemies every hit, or turn your shield into one that absorbs lightning damage. 

So far there is a bit of a snafu with this system. The problem is being worked on, but it does not currently play nice with the systems in place that handle being able to drop items from inventory to the map and having objects interact with other objects. It is a priority to resolve this conflict.

A side-effect of this though was that I was very easily able to add a new system that I did not plan upon originally. An 'Augmentation' system that allows you to add bonus effects to various skills and spells. Similar to how you would add bonuses to equipment, you can give bonuses to your skills. You can make your Fireball also drain HP and give it to the caster, or make every heal spell you cast also grant a protective shield. There are countless possibilities, and best of all the system (thus far, fingers crossed) works flawlessly.
I have been very fortunate to be able to find a way to automatically migrate a bunch of data from the old build of the game on the old engine to the new build on the new engine, so I have quickly repopulated some of the areas of the world with the characters that can join your party, and have given them all of their graphical makeovers and added their various context menus, automatic examine menus, and so forth, so that saved a fair amount of time. 

The Introductory portion of the game has been tweaked to reflect some of the new game mechanics, and Anathema has been upgraded graphically to something I find more disturbing. I have removed the lock-picking aspect from the game entirely; it wasn't really that fun in the end, and it was a knockoff of other lock-picking mini-games and it was just not necessary. Plus, it would cause issues with being able to pick up chests and storage containers (something you could not do in the previous build). 

The days of late have been spent populating the weapons and armor databases and adjusting everything to account for the new stats that the game engine handles, making each weapon choice a bit more important. On a related note, the Luck stat has been given a bigger function in the game. Before, it was primarily used to calculate the odds of being inflicted with status ailments. Now it is factored into a number of damage/healing formulas as well, though is not the primary stat that effects these things.

I have also recently re-added dungeon lighting and have re-added all of the wonderful music to the game. I forgot how wonderful a job Mr. Rao did with the music.

So that has been happening in the last couple of months. Going forward, I will be re-instating the game's main quest and populating towns with NPCs, side-quests, items, and so forth.

Monster Legacy Bundle

The Monster Legacy Bundle has been completed and has launched. It can be viewed on my website in the Resource Pack section. You can find a link there as well to purchase it if you so wish. 

This bundle was not only very important to me for my game, but many people have been looking forward to it as well. To me, that is just amazing. I am very happy with how these monsters came out. Compared to the monsters in High Fantasy Bundles I & II, the difference in quality is definitely noticeable. Not that I am not proud of the work I had done on those bundles, but I did not have the experience nor the technology/software that I now possess which allows for much better images and image quality. I am very thankful to everyone who has been supportive of this and of the graphic packs I have made in general.

And on that note, the next big pack is...

Wild Steam

The Wild Steam resource pack combines the Wild West and Steampunk into one set. So far I have whipped up more tiles than I actually thought I would have been able to whip up this soon. I attribute this to being sick for several days and thus having a lot of down time to just work on it.

I am not certain just how bit this pack will be at the moment. I am aiming for something roughly the size of the High Fantasy I or II bundles though. There will be a variety of Western themed characters, as well as Steampunk characters, along with some monsters, mechanical creatures, even a steam dragon! 

I will post more about it when I have more resources made for the bundle. 

Here is a small sneak-peak at a few of the tiles that I have whipped up whilst sick:

I wanted to close this blog entry with a special note to those who have put their faith (and funds) in me through Kickstarter. I was, and remain so very grateful for the opportunities that you guys have afforded me. I know that this project is taking longer than most have realized it would take. But what you guys gave me was not just the opportunity to make a game, but the opportunity to start a career. Without you guys, I never would have delved into the art world the way I did, and I would not have been able to develop resources for others to use in their games. The revenue this brings in is enough that I have been able to move down to part-time at my hospital job and focus more on developing games and graphics. When I step back and think about this, it is because of you guys. You guys have afforded me this opportunity, and I am eternally grateful. 

Just to have some transparency and disclosure since you guys invested money here, the funds you guys have given me have been put to great use as far as Aleph is concerned - hiring as needed people to write code, create various game assets, writing scenarios/quests. A chunk of the money is earmarked for fulfilling all of the physical rewards. I do not think it is quite enough, but I can cover whatever remaining costs there are through the revenue generated through the sale of graphics. So there should be no issues with fulfilling all of the rewards listed - even if you guys had to wait awhile for them. 

Again, I am so very thankful for you guys. You rock. You deserve the best game that I can possibly make, and I am trying my hardest to make sure it is the best that I can make it. Thank you, and have a great weekend!

PS: I am still sick, so if I sound redundant in my wording, it's because I am somewhat fried with fever. 
So what is going on in Aleph?

Having finished the overworld once again (much bigger than the first iteration), I am now in the process of building all of the interiors. I have the bulk of this done, and suspect to have the rest of it done within a week or so. And then time to populate the world with NPCs!

My friend John, the creator of the Legend of Erthia games (you can check it out on Facebook here) was very kind enough to help me implement randomized dungeon levels for Aleph. This will be a huge boon for me as it will let me make dungeons larger and more expansive and filled with more monsters and loot than I really had time to do manually. I will still custom make various levels of each dungeon, though. The dungeons will have a mixture of pre-made maps and randomly generated maps. This will ensure that each player has a unique and different game experience, and each playthrough of the game will be different and unique as well. There are still some kinks to work out with the system, but it is definitely coming along quite nicely. This will also be of great value for randomly generating smaller caves and mines to explore, along with some more creative areas.

I fixed the animation problem with battles. Some people have noticed in my various demo videos that effects tend to be off-center most of the time. I have fixed this and the effects now appear where they are supposed to. 

Looking over the various custom damage formulas, it has become apparent that I need to tweak some of the numbers for healing spells and abilities. The damage formulas for the most part seem to be doing the trick, but healing is woefully inadequate for the most part. I am going to up those numbers.

I am working on a method to make battles more randomized insofar as to what you actually fight upon encountering a group of monsters. In the previous version of Aleph, each on-map monster was linked to a specific group of monsters. For example, if you saw an Orc running around the woods and you encounter it (touch it) you would engage in battle with a specific, pre-defined group of Orcs. The new method that I am working on will scramble the monster units to randomly place them - so the group might consist of Orcs and a troll, or Orcs and bears, or whatever else I define via array for that particular encounter. This should add far more variety to the battles and encounters (and perhaps create some unpredictable strategic situations!)

I am also revising how monsters detect the player on the map as well. In the previous version of the game, if you were within x range of a monster it would chase you. Now, there are multiple ranges for monsters to detect you - walking and running. If you are walking, the detection range is shorter than if you are running. So although I removed the stamina system and you can run unlimited now in Aleph, you should still be careful since it will greatly increase the range in which monsters can detect and chase you.

I finally took the time to hash out the settings for the day/night system. Each hour has its hue settings and can trigger their own switches or variables as needed - this means I can set up night-only encounters, or have shops stop selling you items if its closing time, and other events of this nature.

As I move past through and soon past the world-building phase, I will have more frequent updates. The world-building phase is one that requires a lot of time and work but generates no real news. Going forward there will be far more new things added to Aleph, so stay tuned!

I have picked up some new software that I am quickly falling in love with. It is a full 3D suite, but the animation tools it provides are stellar. Since I just recently acquired it, I am still learning it and am sure I have a lot left to learn, but progress is fast. 

So while learning this new software, I am creating a for-fun Animation project. It's nothing super special, but I would like to soup it up and maybe make it into some sort of game intro or something for a future project. I have uploaded a few screenshots of the 40-someodd second animation clip. When I finish the clip I will of course share it with you all. I will also be re-adding animation to the list of services I will provide for commission once I am familiar enough with the software.

And last but not least... MONSTERS!
I am currently whipping up an all-monster resource pack. This includes complete revisions of monsters from the High Fantasy Resource Bundles I & II plus The Deep Expansion, and adds some new monsters as well.

As time goes on and I become more proficient at making graphics, I learn new and better ways to create content for people. When I made HF1 and The Deep, I knew only 20% of what I know now. As such I am rehauling all of those monsters! Every monster in this pack will include the following at the minimum:

3 and 8 frames of animation sprite sheets in both 4 and 8 directional facings
Pose/down spritesheets
Re-mastered front-view battler
Re-mastered face graphic
Animated side-view battler

So that is a minimum of 8 graphical resources per monster. Some of the monsters, such as the Orcs, are also getting running animation sprite sheets, and other monsters have alternative sprites and battlers. So this will be a large add-on pack and should take care of all of your monster needs, whether you are using front-view, side-view, or on-map/tactical battle systems in your game projects.

Currently I am about 50% of the way done (if you are familiar with the aforementioned resource bundles, there are TONS of monsters to re-master, not counting the all-new ones added to this bundle). I am *hoping* to have this finished in time for Halloween time, but we will see how it all shakes out.

'Til later, have a great weekend!

Hello everyone! I wanted to share a few updates today in regards to upcoming and future resource releases as well as my game Aleph. 
Firstly, I have completed all 24 of the characters for the Main Party Pack II! You can see them above. I was sure to include more 'caster' type characters this time around since a number of people requested them. Further, I also included some non-humans as well, and filled in the some slots with fan requests (ninja, necromancer, wode, Drow, fairy). I think this cast of characters is more diverse and perhaps more interesting than those in the Main Party Pack I.

Each character includes 4 and 8 direction sprite sheets (in both 3 and 8 animation frames), down poses, faces, busts, portraits, cut-scene images (as shown above), front-view battlers, and animated side-view battlers. At a minimum, each character has 16 different resource files, with some having 21 or more. I have included bow-attack animations in this pack as well for some of the characters, something that was missing from the first pack.

Work continues on the Monster add-on bundle (yet to be named). I currently have about 60+ monsters all set. The plan is to include new sprites (both 4 and 8 direction and down poses) for just about all of the monsters in the High Fantasy I bundle, along with animated side-view battle sheets for just about all monsters in the High Fantasy I & II and The Deep bundles (so looking at a couple hundred-ish animated battlers). Brand new monsters of course will be part of this bundle as well, which will include 4 and 8 direction sprite sheets, down poses, faces, front-view, side-view, and animated battlers for each.

Here is a demo video of how the work is coming along (the monsters are facing off against some of the characters from the Main Party Pack II):
I am not super pleased with the idle animation of the Wood Troll in this video, so I will be re-doing that. But the rest are coming along nicely.

Once these sets of resources are complete, I am going to move on to the next *big* set of resources: either a Steampunk/Wild West set, or a Sci-Fi set of resources. I put up a poll over in the RPG Maker community, and have asked Facebook fans to weight in their opinions. Overall it is a very close race between which one to make first, but it seems the scales are generally tipping in favor of the Steampunk/Wild West bundle. I'll give it another week or two and see how the whole thing shakes out.
I have been poking around with creating actual pixel-art as well. If there is enough interest, I would entertain the possibility of making a larger set of resources in the future. (The tiles were made by me, the characters were not.)

In Aleph news, I have finished re-making the entire overworld. It is now a fair bit larger than in the previous version, contains many more areas to explore, and the map pieces are integrated more naturally with their neighbors.  Weather, clouds, wind, day/night cycle are all implemented currently. The combat system is 95% finished (and runs smoother and with fewer odd bugs than the previous version). The Aleph system received a minor upgrade so that you can view your present location quickly and easily, which is good for when you are tracking down an item or person or place. Numerous smaller upgrades have been implemented. I am working on a randomized encounter system that allows you to still see the monster on the map prior to battle, but will let you face off against a random array of nasties once actually in battle. This will make for much more random sets of enemies to face off against, but you still can choose to try and outrun them on the map.

I updated the animation for the main player's movement so it looks a bit nicer as well. The player has separate animations for walking and running, which is a big visual step up from the previous version of the game. Although very time-consuming, all monsters and main characters will have animated battlers in combat (see the video above for examples), most of which are done at this point. 

I am now in the process of setting up all of the world's items so that they are interactive. The database contains about 50%+ more items than the previous version of the game, many of them are decorative items, containers, and such that you can pick up and set down in the game world. Some items interact with each other as well. For example, if you place a Frost Leaf near a forge or other hot fiery source, it will melt. A special rune you can place anywhere on the map and any monster that approaches it will be zapped, thus preventing them from engaging in combat with you.

I am very pleased with how the whole interactive item system is coming along. It is miles ahead of what previous version of Aleph was capable of.

So stay tuned for further news in the future!

Thanks and have a great weekend!

I would like to take a moment to give everyone updates on both Aleph and the coming game-making resources. 
Firstly in the Resource department, the Mythos Horror bundle is complete! I have turned it in to the good folk at Degica and it is now just a matter of waiting for them to do their thing. This pack is a lot larger than initially planned. I was originally aiming for maybe 5-10 tilesets, and about a dozen monsters and half that in characters. In the end I had over 30 tilesets, and far more monsters and characters - the total spritesheets included is over 200, including running animations, 4 and 8 direction animations, poses, and more. You can check out some screenshots over in the Resource Pack section. Just note that there is no purchase link yet, but there will be.

So with the Mythos Horror bundle finished, what is next in the resource department? I plan on whipping up a handful of freebies that can be used with the Mythos resources, but as far as packs go, I am working on two simultaneously: Main Party Pack II and an all-monster bundle. 

For the Main Party Pack II, I am looking to create more diverse-looking characters. For some reason it did not really dawn on me until well after-the-fact that some of the characters are perhaps a bit too similar in the first pack (not that I don't stand by them). Plus, I would like to include some additional caster-type characters as well, and additional non-humans. There probably won't be as many bonus animated battlers in this pack as the first, but there will be cut-scene images for the characters, such as the picture shown to the side here.

The all-monster pack will contain new monsters (I aim for around 30-40 new ones, but could end up being more), but I also aim to include an optional Legacy Upgrade. 

The Legacy Upgrade would include resources for monsters that are in the High Fantasy Resource Bundles I & II as well as The Deep expansion. It will include re-mastered monster sprites for the monsters in HF I (included 4 and 8 directions and down poses), and will include animated battlers for most monsters in HF I, HF II, and The Deep. I already have a bunch of these done, and a handful of the new ones done as well.

I have been plodding along with Aleph. With the larger world size than previous, I have been able to add more locations and details, which help flesh out the world and make it feel more 'alive'. It also gives you a more areas to explore. There are more ruins and little destroyed places pock-marking the world, which makes sense seeing as the history of the Realm is full of destruction and devastation. Many of these locales will have been made into camps by creatures, so do be careful!

I have been working further on the graphics here and there as well, adding better lighting to things like some of the trees and other objects.  I am also in the process of animating every character and monster. There won't be a single static creature in combat - everything will be animated when I finish.

Since upgrading to the new engine, I did lose some functionality of the last version of Aleph. One such functionality was the ability to use the Mouse and WASD keys. However, recently I have re-added the ability to use WASD keys, as well as AZERTY keyboard support (this might take some adjusting on the user's end, but I will include instructions for that). So the player can now control movement with the arrow keys, WASD keys, or ZQSD keys if using AZERTY controls, along with spacebar, enter, and esc to interact with objects, menus, etc. It is a simpler, more streamlined control scheme than the previous incarnation.

Also fixed are some bugs with the animations in battle. As you can see in this video, the animations occasionally 'freeze':

However, this issue has been resolved and the animations are nice and constant., looping as appropriate. 

Also combat-related, each character has their own 'limit-break' type ability. If you choose not to use your Focus on skills, it will eventually max out and grant you access to that character's special ability.

So moving forward, I am going to continue to create the new, larger world of Aleph. I am decently over half-way done with this task now, and am much, much more pleased with how its coming out than the previous version, which was horrible limited in just how many and what types of tiles that could be used. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend!
A new freebie is now available: The Steward!

As usual, you can grab all of the resources related to this character over in the Free Resources section!

I also just wanted to give a brief update regarding the Mythos resources currently under construction.

For the most part, I have all of the characters and monsters finished. Although there are not as large a quantity of these as in the larger Fantasy bundles, each character and monster has a better variety of resources available, including portraits, busts, animated battlers, running animations, isometric directions, and more. In total there are over 150 sprite sheets currently. 

As it is shaping up, there are also far more tiles than I had originally planned on. I was originally thinking that there might be maybe 4 or so tile sheets. I am up to 10 right now, and still have more to make. All said and done, it will probably be around 15 or so tilesets. I have only made 10 battleback/parallax images, and unsure if I will make more. Although I personally enjoy them, they typically seem to be among the least used resources so I would rather shift more focus into the tiles than the backgrounds if that is what people are more interested in.

So far though, I am very happy with the resources that are made. Drawing from my experience and past mistakes with previous bundles (of which I have learned a considerable amount with each new release), these are some of the best-looking tiles yet I think, and the animated battlers are just really awesome.