I'm writing things here even though it's not a Weekly Update, gasp!
I feel really bad about the fact that I thought I was nearing a release - and said so! - but then ended up, uh, not being as close as I thought. I feel bad both because it's hard not to be hurt when your work is received badly, and that's led to all kinds of doubts about my actual abilities... but also because I hate letting people down, and feel like my reputation is bad enough at the moment so things like this just make people dislike me even more.
I'm not intending to write about my feelings here though, as such, but rather my ideas, and thoughts about where to go from here.
I've tried to write an 'official plot' for Alora Fane: Creation three times now... Well, twice, sort of, since the second one was basically a remake of the first. None of them seemed to work out. It's entirely because my moodiness and idealism leads to me essentially making stories about my own issues, and who really wants to explore a world built up out of problems like that? My hope was that they might serve as a 'lure' to bring like-minded people to me - such people might play the game and think "I can relate to this, I should find out who made it!" - which was a strong hope indeed because I'm so isolated. I let it overpower everything else though, and the plots ended up not exactly being the sorts of things that would make people smile!
I focused a lot on things like social anxiety, isolation, depression, friendlessness, and the like, plus retreating into imagination and being different
Each of the races of Alora Fane has its own most common sentiment, as established by the lore. The Bold are Courage, the Meek are Bliss, the Mhandisi are Creation, the Sindrels are Sorrow, the Varnyn are Fear, and the Elarna were Destruction before they wiped themselves out.
My stories were set in this world, but they focused on characters who stood out for being a different
sentiment than the people around them. A Creation Meek who's friendless because she lives in a village full of Bliss types. A Fear Bold whose anxiety is mocked by the Courage types around him. Things like that.
What I should probably do instead though is create characters who are essentially paragons of their race; the archetype which other creators could look to to know how that race tends to be. A gallant, confident, adventurous Courage-flavoured Bold who struggles with anger issues. A serene, meditative, religious Bliss Meek who struggles with being too placid. Things like that.
My latest attempt at a plot was a stand-alone thing which wasn't planned to have any 'sequels'. However, my first two attempts were meant as the first chapter in what was to be a six-chapter story, with each chapter being released separately. The first three would be set on separate petals, following separate protagonists, while the final three would see this trio of protagonists meeting up and... doing stuff. Or whatever.
To go sort of off-topic for a moment, I don't play games often these days!! Which isn't great since I'm supposed to be a games developer. I basically never play indie games, and I'm completely out of the loop when it comes to gaming trends. I don't own any of the current generation of consoles (except the 3DS, I suppose, those I never really seem to count handhelds as 'consoles').
To 'remedy' this, I've decided to try playing a lot more games, so then I have more to inspire me! All my best ideas were born from games I loved, after all. MARDEK was basically just a love letter to the games that raised me, as thanks for all the positive memories they gave me. Many - most, probably! - of my fondest memories even now are of exploring fantasy worlds in games.
While I intend to play some newer games (the most recent RPG I played was Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns, and before that Ni No Kuni, I think), especially indie ones on Steam, I'm starting by replaying some of the old SNES games that led to the direct inspiration of the games that I make myself.
One of these is a game called Live A Live
. It's a really interesting RPG by Squaresoft (as it was called back then) for the SNES, which has you play as several different characters in different eras individually, before you reach a final chapter where they all meet up. They fall into familiar genres and archetypes like Caveman, Ninja, Cowboy, Sci-Fi, and Mecha. Each has its own self-contained story with a small world and cast of characters, and each has its own quirks to make it unique. The Caveman chapter has no written dialogue, for example; only pictures in speech bubbles and body language. The Sci-Fi one is a murder mystery, without battles, while the Ninja one is all about trying to kill as many people as you can while on an assassination mission (not something that I personally find charming, but I can at least admire its execution (HAHA EXECUTION GET IT)).
It's a game that I first played just a few years ago (on an emulator), but it stuck in my mind and affected me deeply. I think it may very well have been the original inspiration for my first game called 'Alora Fane', actually! The one about a guy called Thymus. Oh, the memories. I'd like to take a similar approach to AFC, where I have five stories set on each of the petals, essentially exploring the culture and setting of that petal much as Live-A-Live explored its eras and genres, then there'd be a final chapter where the protagonists from the previous chapters all met up due to some interconnected aspect of their stories (a shared 'villain', for example, or emotional drive). Perhaps the climax would involve Fracture or the Nexus in some way or another.
With that in mind, it's just a matter now of assembling the pieces. Fleshing out racial archetypes and deciding on the main thread that could possibly tie all five of them together in a way that would lead to a meaningful - and personal! - resolution.
I'm not planning to actually do work on my next attempt at the story at least for a few days, though I feel like the gathering inspiration
stage is crucial, and I'll be using this period to add ingredients to the cauldron of my mind until I cook up a delectable soup!!!1 Or something.
So yes. I'm really sorry about how long all this is taking - I'm suffering more than anyone as a result of it - but I'd much rather release a really good product after ages than something inferior and shoddy just to get it out of the way. This was very much the case for MARDEK 3, by the way; that took three years and involved several 'remakes' and set-backs, but I'd like to think that it was 'worth it' considering what I came out with in the end! If I'd gone with my first idea, it would have been so much worse.
I may update this blog from time to time with various thoughts and ideas, either about the things I've been playing - or watching, even - as well as what I intend to do with my own games.
Oh, also, a note to the Alora Fane people: Sorry about not responding to some messages here yet; I've been rather lacking in energy over these last few days for fairly obvious reasons! I hope to get around to replying soon though!