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[devlog] who do you think you are - DEMO!

A topic by Grim ๐Ÿ‘๏ธ created Jan 03, 2016 Views: 1,582 Replies: 36
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Submitted (7 edits) (+2)

โ who do you think you are? โž

ยป 1/16: play the demo! ยซ

who do you think you are? (working title) is a surreal exploration game
to be created in rpgmaker vm ace. it is a short, experimental third-person
game with a focus on observation and item collection.

synopsis (wip)

on a dark and stormy night โ€” of course โ€” the power flickers and dies, and a strange noise begins kindling in the distant reaches of a secluded home. incensed and disturbed, the owner of the house assumes the worst; could this be an invasion, a burglary in progress? who does that miscreant think they are?

whatever it is, the homeowner isn't afraid. rather, they're determined to catch the interloper in the act. yet the house seems different tonight โ€” warped and strange, everything out of place. as they follow the signs of the trespasser, they examine everything they come across, trying to recapture some sense of order.

it's lonely work. you play as the homeowner, who happens to be the only resident of the house. you'll be seeing a lot of them as you negotiate the night, familiarizing yourself โ€” and re-familiarizing them โ€” with a mansion in disarray. every curious detail is relevant, and it will serve you best to pay close attention.


an educated individual, well-spoken and of rather lofty comportment. methodical and rigorous, they are determined to have what they are owed โ€” whether that's their home, their privacy, or their right to some peace and quiet. they can be impatient and a little ornery, but also sardonic and light in the right (and sometimes the wrong) situations.

physically, my concept of them thus far is very sparse; they're essentially a blank slate, kind of like a mannequin, and i'm thinking i prefer them this way. their face is always in shadow and their appearance in general is drab and indeterminate. all there is to know about them with certainty so far is that they are tall and slender, and their eyes, you'll eventually learn, are green.

here are my first impressions of our intrepid homeowner, including a bust sketch, a full body sketch (with some alt color options), and a few details:

if they had a visible face (they don't!), it miiiight look something like the bottom left sketch, but that's just kind of a bonus that i threw in and don't intend to make much of. i will say that they're not necessarily bald, though; i just chose not to render hair thus far because i don't intend for it to ever be visible. i'm thinking that i'd like them to dress in monochromatic tones, but still deciding on the base color; fwiw, the muted reds were my first idea and still stands out to me the most.

stick with the post until the end for a peek at how i really intend the protagonist to look!


i'm not a particularly competent pixeler when it comes to tilesets, so i'll be trying to track down custom ones while possibly making a few individual b & c layer tiles here and there if i need to. i'd like to try my hand at making a few simple faceset/portraits to see if i can translate the protag's obfuscated appearance into a limited space.

as for spriting, vx ace's default sprite size drives me UP A WALL, so i'm using mack sized sprites. thus far i've just made myself a blank template character in a generator, and i plan to edit the charset heavily later in hopes of actually achieving the look and movement i want for the protagonist. i'm excited to figure out how to render the shadows that obscure their face and head -- i want to try to recreate the sense of hatching and spreading that makes the them blend into dark environments.

all of the art i've begun today remains in the early/wip stages, but i'm happy with how things are turning out. next i'll be looking into music and sfx -- i don't know exactly what kind of sound i want for the bgm, but i'm thinking i can't go wrong with ambient tracks. time for cc licensed music hunting!


i'm not trying to do anything too innovative here; you walk around, you press enter to learn things and do things and make new things happen. but! that enter key is going to get a lot of traffic, because:

i love flavortext. it's something i'm always curious about in games because i've always found it kind of fun to examine everything. if the flavortext isn't just there as fluff, there's actually a significant dollop of worldbuilding in every little description -- especially within a small environment where every piece of set dressing counts. that's one of the main things i hope to achieve with this game: a strong sense of setting, despite the place itself being dark and surreal and strange.

anyway, the basics of the gameplay (other than wasd):

  • there's a huge emphasis on examining things and on simple message events -- prompting text to tell you what's up with that clock, or what that's a painting of, or whose empty glass that is sitting on the nightstand. these details are all part of a whole; each thing you can interact with is a tiny vignette, an impression of something bigger.
  • i'm also hoping to have a decent inventory system, which is something i've never really felt the need for before because i tend to make text-based games and vns where an inventory is negotiable. stay tuned for more about that as i approach it more concretely :o
  • it's also possible that i'll implement multiple endings! and if i don't get to that during the jam, i'm definitely interested in revisiting this game in the future.

so that's wdytya thus far! it's only day one and i still have a lot to do, but i'm happy with how things are fitting together! my next objectives are to hash out the story, start the brunt of the writing, and decide things like how many maps and how many usable items i want to implement. i'll update this thread whenever i can with wips, sketches, screenshots, and whatever else comes up!

and, as promised, here's our protagonist in all their stylized, shadowy glory:

thanks for checking out my game, and good luck with your own!

Submitted (1 edit) (+2)

update (jan. 2nd):

threw together a basic placeholder room with default tiles for familiarizing myself with some environment effects that i haven't tried before, at least not in vx ace (screen tinting, weather, animations, etc). rpg maker has a lot of helpful presets, so this is a neat process! (lol you can see my placeholder sprite hanging out here. i'm hoping to edit it into some semblance of decency by tomorrow night)

i also want to start the hunt for more assets asap; i have a folder of previously-downloaded music (and a catalog of their licenses) that i've been saving up, but a lot of it is already in use in one of my other projects. tonight i think i'll stick to grabbing a ton of sound effects, getting my first few maps blocked out, and setting up some documents in which to hash out the plot progression and how everything should fit together.

Jam HostSubmitted

yeeeeees, this is my kind of game. ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘€ i'm super hyped to play this!! gosh, i really love rpgmaker games with this kind of atmosphere! actually, when i was like, 12? i played yume nikki and i think it had a huge impact on how i saw games + my taste in media in general... so this is super, super up my alley!


omggg i'm so glad you're excited, thank you!! it's so special to know that people are anticipating and enjoying your work * U*

i literally had the exact same experience with yume nikki -- i think i was around 12 or 13 when i first stumbled upon it, and it was so formative for me too. it was unique and impressive and made game dev feel a lot more accessible! it's definitely what made me aware of rpgmaker and got me more interested in seeking out obscure/indie/alternative games.

also it was obv way up my alley in terms of design, concept, creepiness, etc lol. it just felt like such a new, strangely immersive way to approach playing a game -- having limited npcs and being essentially abandoned, left to wander around the most absolutely bizarre worlds. the atmosphere in every location is still so powerful and it really solidified the fact that simple pixel art has huuuge potential to evoke emotion and to render the surreal amazingly. chinhands. i could go on about rpgmaker-style games forever

I love flavortext in games and this looks like a good concept, I'm excited to see more of this! Good luck with your project!


thank you so much!! c: i'm so glad it seems engaging!


update (jan. 3rd):

started working on sprites in earnest! not much got done last night because i straight up fell asleep at like 10pm whoops. it doesn't look great, but now the player character can at least look vaguely like they're supposed to (but only when they're walk forward lol). click here for an mp4 preview which is of sLIGHTLY better image quality (not much tho) than the following gif:

i've gotten waaaay more done so far today, so there will be a much bigger update a little bit later!!


update (jan. 4th):

things are getting sorted out!! i got a lot done today, especially in terms of organization. i seriously needed to sit down and spreadsheet + flowchart out the rooms & items that i plan to include. it's still slow-going with the items because i want everything to be meaningful while still being feasible to include/represent (given how hard it is to find perfect tilesets RIP), but so far i'm finished with planning the rooms! now it's time for actually making them in-game, which means i'm going to do more tileset-hunting and i'll be trying to at least get a rough layout done for about 5-10 maps per day.

i also customized the in-game menu a little bit by changing the bg color, altering some terms, and preventing unnecessary things from being processed in the script, namely formation and skills. it's starting to look the way i want it to!

today's work:

  • created the house's layout/room progression diagram โœ”
  • created room list (complete) โœ”
  • created item list (wip) โœ”
  • started compiling+ writing item descriptions (first 7 maps) โœ”
  • downloaded sfx & bgm โœ”
  • brainstorming + plotting document โœ”
  • guide document โœ”
  • started word on first 7 maps โœ”
  • customized the menu โœ”
  • 96x96 menu/dialogue portrait โœ”

but there's still some more things i want to try to work on today if i can:

  • more concept art!
  • first cutscene
  • keep hunting down usable assets (tilesets, bgm, and sfx)
  • continue working on rough sprite (ughghhhg) + finalizing portrait
  • start to focus on writing -- plot, descriptions, etc

update (jan. 5th):

quick midday update since i'm not sure if i'll be around or able to work on things later tonight!

  • first cutscene coded!!!
  • figured out switches!!! now i can make cutscenes in general as well as more complex events
  • created some events where you can choose to pick up an item (and then when you pick it up, it disappears from the map into the convenient void of your inventory)
  • found some new tilesets to work with
  • basically a lot of fun with self-switches

(the screen tint changes because i am Lazy and just set it to normal to test the event)

for a long time i was a lazy nerd and was intimidated by switches?? but i finally bit the bullet and figured out how they work. it turns out that switches are the best and i should not have been a lazy nerd for this long!!!!!! so many of the things i want to do with this game's events are achieved with self-switches. i'm still figuring them out and messing up all the time, but this feels like progress! (also: once i actually have the sprite for the protag finished, i'm going to make a quick edit of them in their jammies so i can actually use an event like this, lol. they're very adamant about not traipsing about in their pjs, ok. who do you think you are!?)

hopefully i'll have a solid chunk of time in the next few days where i can just sit down and write everything that needs to be written + arrange placeholder layouts for all the maps. in the meantime, i'm still always scrounging around for new assets and thinking about event placement and tinkering with customization.


another really quick update: found a neat window skin!! things are starting to look legit *__*

(rip these are cropped so close and i haven't even fitted the title screen yet i am just hype about this skin)


yesss switches are really useful and helpful and it's super cool you figured them out!! this is coming along so nice aaa. also i dunno if you play destiny but when i read your concept i immediately thought of this article by aevee bee. i love the blurry face stuff so much it's soo cool yo??? looking forward to seeing more of this!


thank you so much aaaa!!!! i'm so happy that the blurry face thing is cool c: and while i don't play destiny (i'm Terrible at fps and i don't own any of the consoles it's on), i've read that article and i can see why you'd think of it!

it definitely gets some gears turning in my mind; Good Wordfeel is something i'm all about all the time, but it also gets me thinking a lot about the importance of tone especially in these very pithy descriptions? like, armor and weapons are such personal items that they tend to take on a more intimate tone than other things might. i think inventory items and possessions in general have the most capacity for that because the player kind of assimilates them into their experience much more than they do with ordinary environmental items.

okay it's like 4 am and i have way too many thoughts on this kind of thing so i'm cutting myself off here lol. but omg thank you again, i'm so glad it's looking good so far!!

Submitted (1 edit) (+1)

update (jan. 6th):

a little late tonight but i can make up for that with tons of screenshots!! i'm really excited about what i got done today ;u;

for one thing, the title screen actually looks good now:

and in other (big!) news, i think i've found all the assets i'm going to need, at least for now!! i'm all set with tilesets, music, sound effects, another new windowskin, etc. so it's finally time to really throw myself into mapping (and from there, eventing)!!

i'm new to mapping and i need to git gud, so pretty much every time i open this project i end up tweaking all the maps 1000 times trying to improve them (even posting these i see things i want to change). i'm not very familiar with using tiles to construct a 3d space like this -- even with a detailed tileset, you really have to think about what kind of form and placement indicates what you want to represent. i've been looking at tons of interior screenshots for inspiration and i feel like i'm learning a lot :o

i think you can tell which of these is my first room (basic square bedroom) and where i started to get more adventurous and attempt to make rooms with a little more interest and substance (like. everything else lol). that seems like improvement! i'm going to try to keep learning and producing decent maps (atm i have over 20 planned for this game), so if anyone has any tips for good interior/mansion mapping i'm all ears.

(i keep forgetting to lessen or remove the screen tint for screenshots btw oops i'm sorry ;; making things muddled and dark and indistinct is the intent with certain portions of gameplay for sure, but this much darkness is not going to be a constant in every room!)

between writing, mapping, and eventing, i still have a lot to do for the rest of the jam, but this is definitely progress!! i'm so glad to have all my assets squared away for now because it lets me just focus on those things. =u=


yeah mapping is really tricky and it's really cool that you're looking at real life examples for inspiration!! i think you're really getting a sense of depth with the third screencap!! nice work!


thanks!! c: i'm no architect by any stretch of the imagination, but i spend a lot of time staring at floor plans of temples and cathedrals and living spaces for my major, so that's been helpful. :o i'm also really poring over examples of successful map work done by much more experienced game devs, and it's super inspiring to see the amazing things people have created!! there's a lot of gigantic map critique threads on the rpgmaker forums and that's been so enlightening omg.


This is coming along really nicely! The muted colours/tint looks good, it definitely adds to the spooky atmosphere.


thank you!! c: i'm excited to keep messing with visual effects like that and fine-tuning the atmosphere! there's a precise blend of spooky/unsettling/a little bit surreal that i want to hit eventually.

Submitted (1 edit)

update (jan. 7th-8th):

the 7th was super busy irl and i got nothing done for the game! :o

today was also really busy and i got Almost nothing done lol. but i've laid out all the maps i should be needing (about 25, give or take) and i've started arranging some of the new ones -- just some simple bedrooms, a closet, and a parlor. some early draft maps:

new screen tint also! i'm feeling this slight desaturation.

edit: fixed the back walls a bit!


whoa so many maps!! they look soo nice wow O: on the last map tho the depth seems odd with the back wall--i'm guessing that part of the room might be higher than the rest but it almost appears to go back in space when the floor doesn't match it. overall it looks really impressive though!!

Submitted (1 edit) (+1)

eeeee thanks so much!! <3 yeah, i am not satisfied with those back walls because i'm just realizing that you're totally right, i forgot to adjust the floor there when i was adjusting the walls! mapping before bed leads to mishaps.... ive sleepily been trying to put my finger on why it looked so Weird and now i know exactly how to fix it, thank youuuu!

Submitted (2 edits) (+1)

update (jan. 9th-11th):

1/9: several more maps done! i've been making tons of use of shift-clicking and the shadow tool. shift-clicking in particular is the absolute most useful rpgmaker feature ever, omfg.

1/10: very little -- some map tweaking, some thinking about events; busy day irl!

1/11: the rest of the maps are all laid out, many of them are finished (or close to finished), and i can finally focus on events!

(i know non-aquatic plants in random pools of water are generally a Mapping No-No,
but the situation here is that the property is flooded and also a neglected mess lol)

i decided to cut 3-4 rooms in the interest of time because they didn't seem to add enough to warrant expending effort on them. i know i'll be revisiting this game in the future to improve it, though, so i may add them in again when that time comes! otherwise, in the next few days i think i need to decide whether to try to submit this as an early full release or as a demo. ideally i'd like to have it in a state of actual completion, but idw be too ambitious. we'll see!

biggest goals for the last 5 days:

  • finish player sprite!!!
  • implement all bgm & sfx!!!
  • complete eventing!!!!!!
  • touch up maps!!!

good luck!! im looking forward to it


thank you, i'm so glad to hear that!! c:

Wow! Your mapping is actually really good compared to a lot of beginner devs I've seen 0.0 Really looking forward to playing this!

Also, feel free to ask if you need help with anything :) I've been using rpg maker for around 2 years, and I'd be more than happy to give feedback on your maps or just help you with anything you need :D


whoa, that means a lot!! *O* i've been furtively glancing at rpgmaker for years now, but this is the first time i've actually committed to a project for real, so i'm glad all those months of admiring assets and maps is paying off!

and thank you so much for the offer to help, i'd love to take you up on that at some point in the future. c: i'm super interested in feedback and rpgmaker talk in general -- if you're on twitter or tumblr, feel free to follow me and chat about dev some time!

I'm everywher- I mean sure! I'll add you if you could link me either :)


cool! i'm moonguile/@devreezus on tumblr/twitter. c:

Okies! I'll follow you on twitter :) I'm @FroggeDev ^^

this looks AMAZING!!!! i love the concept so much! its creepy but so intriguing!


omg i'm so happy to hear that, thank you so much!! *u* <3

Jam HostSubmitted

i've been slacking in checking updates but omg this looks sooo good T___T i can't wait to play (after i cry and rush to put a demo out of my own game)))


omgggggg thank you, i hope it lives up to expectations! ;u; i've been slacking when it comes to checking (and making) updates also (sobs it's been such a busy week) but i'm super excited to play yours as well!!! i'm really into what i've seen so far ๐Ÿ‘€ good luck with this last stretch of work!!!! <3


I am so excited to play this jesus christ


sdfghfjsdfgfd THANK YOU *U* i'm so excited that you're excited!!!


update (jan 15th):

time really got away from me these last few days ;___; life stuff has prevented me from doing quite as much as i wanted to with this game, but as i've been working on it the game has also become a lot more than i expected it to be! i'm really enjoying treating it as a learning experience and taking the time to build upon it, so i've decided that i'll just be putting out a demo for the jam and i'll continue to work on it in the future, ideally to completion! the demo will contain about ten rooms to thoroughly explore, a handful of items to pick up, and a few small cutscenes. hopefully that will be a decent amount of content!

i'm working on putting the finishing touches on things tonight (haha help me it is 5am) before submitting wdytya tomorrow and posting a reflection on the process! iM EXCITED and you guys being excited too has been a huge confidence booster for me, thank you all so much!! i hope it'll be at least some of what you're hoping for c:


final update!!! 1/16:

the demo is finished!!!

i am EXHAUSTED right now so i don't have much to say other than this: thank you all so much (hosts & participants, even if we never interacted) for a great first jam -- this has been wonderful and i'm so grateful for the experience! i'll have a lot more to say tomorrow night. c:

if you play the demo, i'd be really honored by any feedback you might have, whether it's a rating or a comment! you can email me if you'd rather not comment on the game's page. thanks for all the support! <3


i planned to write this up on sunday, but it's been a really busy few days! winter break is almost over =A= but it's time to wrap up here! my initial goals at the very beginning of the jam were to:

  • actually finish the game!
  • create a game where everything matters and there's no egregious fluffing -- [...] if/where there's flavortext, it's all meaningful and should be worth exploring.
  • create a decent atmosphere and a final product that's somewhat polished

in terms of finishing the game, i realized near the end that it wasn't really feasible. i was careful about setting my expectations low at first and my original concept for the game was really simple, but i couldn't resist expanding on it. it got progressively more engaging to me and i wanted to do so much more with it, to the point where i had to accept that it became a different game from my initial pitch -- not in terms of premise, but in terms of the scope of the writing, mechanics, gameplay, etc. so it made the most sense at that point to polish up a demo and submit that! i'm really happy with what i've managed overall -- i do feel like i finished something playable that has a decent foundation for what i'm aiming for in the full game.

it isn't perfect by a long shot, though. i spent hours playtesting, tweaking, and correcting dozens of bugs in the last few days, but there are always improvements that can be made. there are still things here and there that i have yet to figure out or correct, but i tried to keep them from being anything outrageous. at this point, i think i have a decent command of the types of events and techniques i'll be working with the most (and i'm eager to keep learning!!), so i can focus on the writing and assets a lot more now that i have something playable to funnel it all into.

as a whole, i'm so glad to hear that people are enjoying the atmosphere of wdytya so far!!! i'm going to keep at it -- i wanted it to be "surreal" at first, but that was difficult to convey as i envisioned with the resources and time that i had (especially because i lost a few days), so it's something i'll continue looking into and working on. i'm also not totally satisfied with some of the flavortext and i know that i can improve it vastly, but i did make everything relevant in some way (even if it's not apparent yet, story-wise), and i'm so happy that others are finding it interesting and mysterious so far!

the feedback i've received throughout this whole process has absolutely made my month. thanks again for all your support, guys! it's been amazing to start off 2016 by finishing something i can be proud of, and i have plenty more games planned for the future! if you're interested in keeping in touch with me or my work, my twitter, tumblr, and other projects are linked in my profile. see you around! c: