Case File: Poe - Devlog 1: Planning, Concept, and Art Style!
Date Written: January 8th, 2023
Whenever I come up with an idea for a new game or comic, I usually always like to start with the characters first. However, for Case File: Poe, the premise came to me first while I was working on my previous game, Dolchio. With the rough plot in mind, I sketched out some character designs and realized that I didn’t like them or feel attached to them at all lol.
So I thought I'd use some old character designs and find a way to stick them into this new game! So that’s how three of the four main cast members were added to the game (Poe, Rokio, and Morg). With the characters decided, I could move on to writing and conceptualizing how the game would look and play; Without the characters and loose plot, it’s really difficult for me to write or do anything else.
Now that the characters are out of the way, it’s time to write! Which I’m gonna talk about in another devlog because writing this story is making my poor little brain work harder than it ever has in years…!! I thought Hansel had a complicated story, but this one is a whole different beast and I’m honestly having some trouble staying organized. But I’m hoping it’ll pay off in the end! No worries though, I’d say the writing is about 70% complete as of posting this devlog, and I started back in February 2022! :] Here’s a blurry image of one of the many several writing/outlining/planning pages I’ve done hehe (blurred for no spoilers!)
Moving on, now I could start drawing. I don’t like drawing until I have a good chunk of the writing done because I don’t want to have wasted some time drawing something and then end up scrapping it if I decide to change the game around later. I originally had planned for Case File: Poe to be a top-down RPG, like Hansel or other standard RPG make games. So I drew a few character sprites for the game and played around with different styles. But I wanted the game window size to be larger, and forcing full screen on the game would make it look weird if I used small pixel art. So I tried making bigger sprites, or even upscaling them. Long story short, I had to scrap the RPG style and go for something else.
I knew that because of the nature of the game, a strict sidescroller like the style of Dolchio wouldn’t work the best because I want the player to be able to explore the map. While the sidescrolling style would allow for some exploration, it was more suited for Dolchio’s linear storytelling where exploration wasn’t as integral to beating the game. That’s not the case for this game, as it is about a mystery. Exploring and gathering evidence is the most important part! So I had to go all the way back to the drawing board and play some other games to find some inspiration.
And so I did find some gameplay inspiration from games such as Ace Attorney, Professor Layton, Shin Megami Tensei, Danganronpa, Your Turn to Die, Virtue’s Last Reward, and 13 Sentinels.
With RPG Maker MV’s clicking/Mouse support, I figured out what I had to do! Like a clicking adventure game, I was going to have to make a game where the player can explore the whole environment by directly interacting with it and its characters. With that in mind, I started creating concept art and sketching out some of the art for the game!
So with plot, gameplay ideas, characters, and concepts are out of the way for now, I could move on to thinking about the general art aesthetic that I’d like: I want Case File: Poe to look good. Like, really REALLY good and I’m afraid that my art skills aren’t at that level yet. I don’t want it to look or feel like an RPG maker game. So why not just use another game engine?? I’ve made some stuff using Game Maker Studio and I’m confident with it and I could use that but… I like using RPG maker!! It’s fun hehe >:]
Regarding the art, it just means that I have to practice some more and actually take my time on it. Seriously, I usually don’t have the patience to take my time drawing and so I like to rush and finish all my pieces under an hour. It’s a bad habit, I know!! Which is why I’m forcing myself to sit down and not rush through the art, and to make myself polish the artwork as much as I can! And so, yesterday I completed a cutscene CG test where I took all of the time I needed to get an idea of how much time I would need to set aside for the art of the game. This CG took me a little over 3 hours instead.
And I’m definitely happy with the way it came out!! Yes! The game is coming together in my head! Next, I have to figure out the interface, world map, other graphic design stuff but I’ll leave those for later. My priority now is to finish writing the game and start the script. After that, I can go ham on the art and theeennnn start the programming!
I know this was a long read, but thanks for reading through it! Hopefully I can get these devlogs up regularly that way I can make myself consistently work on the game. :]