Indie game storeFree gamesFun gamesHorror games
Game developmentAssetsComics


A member registered Sep 22, 2015 · View creator page →

Creator of

Recent community posts

Better player feedback for slowing time

Raising the contrast between the player+enemies+bullets vs. the background is something I've considered, and still might add some time. In the full game bullets do produce sparks when you graze past them, so that might improve the feel somewhat.

I realized that I could still interact with things even when I was facing away from them, which resulted in me accidentally interacting with a few things that I didn't mean to.

I don't entirely understand this one, the button for interacting with things does nothing else, so I'm not sure why you'd be pressing it when facing away from something and expect something else to happen. A related concern is that it's easy to talk to the same NPC again after closing out the dialogue with them. That's something I want to fix.

Better bullet colors

This is something that maybe could be improved, but it's the kind of thing where specific examples would really help me -- there are multiple backgrounds, after-all. It's been a while, but I believe I may have adjusted the colors on the bullets since the demo anyways?

Boss direction indicator toggle

Specifically removing it for masochist isn't something I'm interested in doing, because I think it's the sort of element whose inclusion allows me to ask more of the player in terms of dodging things. But I agree that just having the option to turn it off wouldn't hurt, and that's been a "Nice To Have" todo for a while. Probably something I'll do right before releasing the full game.

Shadows/better depth perception

Yeah, I agree. That's probably the biggest failing the game has in terms of visual readability I think. It's something I've tried to solve mostly through making raised ground use a different tile color, but it could still be better. Painting on shadows is definitely something I should consider, but I'm not sure if I'll have time.

Dialogue Box

This is a probably the most oddly controversial thing in the game, and I've had a lot of people say they do and don't like it. I guess it probably comes down to what one's habits are for advancing text -- I think Vacant Kingdom is set up to help people who sometimes advance through decisions without realizing it.

That being said, I do think I mostly agree with your side these days. I do want to tweak it somehow before the full game is released, probably by defaulting to the first option but delaying selection a bit.

Exiting dialogue with the back button is a good idea, but not essential probably. It's going to be one of those things that I'll do so long as I can think of a way that won't take more than a few hours to add it to everywhere appropriate in the game...

Anyways, thanks for leaving feedback. Noted about beta testing -- i'm not quite ready for that yet, but it shouldn't be too much longer.

Hey, thanks for playing! I can't say that Outer Wilds is something I ever expected Vacant Kingdom to be compared to, but I'll take the compliment because that's just generally one of the most impressive video games out there.

Yeah, I think when playing with mouse & keyboard, losing the mouse in all of the chaos can be a real problem.

The full game will include some areas which are only mentioned in the dialogue in Prologue, so I hope that can satisfy your curiosity about the world a bit more.

Noted about the difficulty naming convention. I guess it's a hard thing to find something that works for everyone, especially with bullet hell games being something with a pretty large range of possible player skill. 

About where you got lost... the current development version does have a map feature -- so I hope that can help people understand where they may have missed something if they get stuck!

Anyways, thanks again for playing and taking the time to leave your thoughts. The full game of Vacant Kingdom is still something I'm working on every week, so please keep on eye open for it on here and Steam.

Thanks for checking in! It's not dead, I'm working on it for at least a couple solid days every week! I've posted a handful of updates on Steam if you're curious about how it's going: 

(1 edit)

The quiz is just a weird one off moment which doesn't affect anything mostly, but I have a couple ideas of how I might to a call back to it later on.

I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the sort of divide that exists between the combat portion of the game and the story/exploration/puzzle portion of the game. It was an intentional decision of mine to sort of pace out the game with spikes of challenge and then periods of rest, but in retrospect I think I could have done a better job of that. I think I have a better handle on it now that I'm working on the rest of the game.

Thanks for playing, please keep an eye out for the full game!

Hey, thanks for the feedback!

Did you solve the Orobas's riddle in the basement without going up to the library? If so: that's impressive, if not: then I'd argue did see most of the game. The boss on the 13th floor is designed to be optional, so you haven't really skipped anything that I didn't intend for the player to be able to skip.

It's cool to hear that you still enjoyed the game even if the combat wasn't super your cup of tea. 

Noted that you didn't catch the 3HP gear on your first pass. In the current dev build of the game I have that pretty much on the critical path, as I figure that it's too important to be something a player could miss.

It's cool to hear that it worked okay under Proton for you. Eventually I'd like to have an official Linux build, but in the mean time at least that's something I might be able to point people towards.

I just wanted to make a point to note that I did reply to this post, except on the steam forums:

Partially so that I don't see this a year from now and forget, and partially so that if other people see this thread, they don't see this post without a reply and figure that I've stopped reading it.

Hello! There's shouldn't be anything radically different about the new script files, so it's odd to me that they wouldn't work if the generation step worked correctly. Are you pretty sure that you've overwritten the game files correctly?

Ah, I see what you mean now with the aiming. Arguably this behavior is desirable since one would hope that your bullets would always fire towards the crosshair? I guess I tend to leave my crosshair as close to the boss as possible, if not directly on top of, so this hasn't been as issue for me. I see how this might trip you up in some scenarios, but I'm not sure if there's a better alternative. (A conclusion which you seem to already agree with, I think.)

Ah, good catch! It's always good when people with uncommon setups try my games, a lot of times it reveals that I'm doing something silly, as was the case this time. I can go ahead and change a certain code comment now, heh.

Thanks for the detailed steps to reproduce the issue! Although, in this case it was a tad unnecessary because the crash was just me calling a method on a source instead of by mistake.

Not sure if you intend to go back and play more for the secret boss or anything, but if you do know that this crash is fixed on the release.

Hi, thanks for playing and for leaving detailed feedback! I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your time!

I started playing with mouse and keyboard, and had a bit of trouble keeping my aim on the bosses as I would sometimes lose track of where the targeting reticule is. When aiming with the mouse, the reticule's positioning is affected somewhat by how the scrolling will lock against the boundaries of the map.

Yeah, I've made the aiming ridicule larger a couple times and I'm fairly convinced that losing track of the mouse in the chaos might be somewhat unavoidable for new players. I think it's the kind of thing that one will get better at after playing for a while.

I'm not sure if 100% understood the second sentence, I think you're talking about how scrolling the screen will move the mouse along with it? It might be interesting to experiment with an option where the mouse cursor stays still (relative to the game world) when the screen scrolls, but I think something like that would be less than ideal for anything except a relatively small boss arena.

I experienced some dropped frames and performance fluctuations on the first boss as it got closer to defeat.

Good to hear that other than this, it was smooth for you. The last phase of the first boss is a problem area, it's my go-to scene for benchmarking right now.

(1 edit)

By the way, I ended up using this font in my game Vacant Kingdom, just thought you might want to know! I use it for Location and Boss titles:

It's hard to say what it is, but my guess is that your video card might not support OpenGL 2.1 or newer. The minimum spec is: Intel HD Graphics, GeForce 6xxx, Radeon HD 2xxx. If you do have a card from those series or more recent, then maybe you could try making sure you have the latest graphic drivers?

Thanks for clarifying on the start of the game and who you thought had awkward dialogue. Ronove referring to you as "sir or madam" is supposed to be intentionally weird and is supposed to be emblematic of his total disinterest in accommodating or helping you.

~10 deaths on the Mandrake boss and Orobas is about what I was aiming for difficulty-wise. 20+ is maybe a big too high for Sarcoph Augustus, but then again you said you weren't using the Hourglass, so that would have made things more difficult than it needed to be. So I'm not sure whether I should touch him.

The higher difficulties mostly affect the density and speed of projectiles, and well as the resting time between volleys/patterns of bullets. The seedling minions move at the same speed on both Easy and Intended, but there are more of them on Intended, so that would create the effect making their pursuit feel more threatening.

In terms of being "forced into a corner" during boss battles, I agree with you. That's been something I've been trying to design bosses to avoid. I think the Mandrake's design makes it so that it's pretty optimal to just stay back in the corner and move yourself just enough to dodge bullets. However, Sarcoph Augustus and Orobas were both designed to make it so the player should have to utilize most of the arena to be successful.

(1 edit)

Hi, thanks for playing!

When you say that the start of the game took you a long time, was there a part in particular that didn't click right away for you? It sounds like you might've been stuck in the little pit where Sprighou (the Gardener) resides and didn't realize you could get out of there by planting the seeds? Let me know if I'm correct, because if I know exactly what didn't click for you, that'll help me greatly while trying to figure out a way to make it more clear.

If the game took you about 2.5 hours in total, then I'd say that's about the playtime I was going for. The bosses are definitely supposed have have a sort of "die -> get better -> try again -> repeat until you win" cycle, even on easy. The idea for easy to give a bit of a struggle,  but still set the bar lower enough that even players who aren't super into the genre can proceed before they get frustrated. It sounds like it probably missed the mark for you though. Can you give me an idea of how many deaths it took you for each boss before you were able to beat them?

The skull icon just shows the direction of the boss in relation to your character. The idea is that you can visually focus on just your section of the screen and focus on dodging... But it's probably something that's more useful when playing with a gamepad, so maybe I'll consider removing it for mouse and keyboard players.

A lot of NPCs are definitely supposed to come across a little rude. I was hoping it would come across as more playfully cheeking than annoying.

Your comment about the English being bad is highly interesting to me. You're the first person I've heard say this, although I definitely am taking it seriously as a concern. I've probably spent a disproportionate amount of time learning the intricacies of ESL english. So it does not surprising if while making a writing this came across. Was there an NPC in particular who you felt was particularly bad for this, so that I can give them some more scrutiny? Or better yet, even a line of dialogue?

Changing clothing doesn't reflect on your character right now, but you would have noticed your HP change from 1/1 to 3/3.

A handful of items are just gag items which clutter up your inventory for now... :) maybe they'll find a use eventually.

Noted on mouse navigation in menus. That's on the todo list, it's just hard to find the time for.

Thanks again for sticking through the whole thing and for taking the time to write such detailed feedback!

(1 edit)

Hm, yes. Good catch. Only happens with the mouse, oddly enough. Will fix this today. Thank you for the bug report.

(1 edit)


  • Added "The Hint Corner".
  • Both mouse / keyboard and gamepad controls can now be configured in the options menu.
  • Vertical Sync can now be toggled in the option menu. (It was always off before.)
  • You can now "Retry Boss" from the pause menu. This is essentially a suicide button.
  • Items can now be equipped from the Inventory menu in addition to the Equipment menu.
  • Nintendo button theme now uses colorful SNES/SFC scheme, instead of the grey switch scheme.
  • Bugfixes
    • Activating the hourglass in the middle of a lunge no longer causes player to bonk on nothing.
    • Fixed a rare crash which could occur when loading maps.
    • Fixed bug where firing could get "stuck" after entering a dialogue with mouse 1 pressed down.
(1 edit)

It should already work with any alternative Cave Story engine, provided that that engine can load the original game files. (Which I assume all of them can?) Have you tried it yet?

Randomizing the Japanese scripts is not something I'm personally interested in doing. But if anyone from the Cave Story community wants to step in and implement it themselves, I could get them set up and eventually merge it into mainline.

(1 edit)

Thanks for playing! Sorry to hear that you missed the August Attire. I'm trying to strike a balance with it: making it hard to miss but not directly handing it out to the player, while also making it technically optional so that players can forgo it for an extra bit of challenge. If I find that a fair bit of people are missing it like that, I'll definitely rework how it's acquired.

There should be a file generated that slightly modifies the First Cave map when you get a starting weapon that can't break blocks. Is it possible that you applied the patch in a way where that file wouldn't have been replaced? 


  • Balance Changes
    • General
      • The hitboxes of the player and some bullets have been tweaked in the player's favour.
    • Sarcoph Augustus
      • Phase 1 has been made a little more forgiving on Easy Mode.
      • Phases 2-5 have been made considerably more forgiving on Easy Mode.
      • Phases 1-2 have been made a little more forgiving on Intended Experience.
      • Phases 3-4 have been made considerably more forgiving on Intended Experience.
  • Maps are now stored inside game's binary, rather than in the game directory. This should fix an issue related to permissions that one user reported.
(1 edit)

Yeah, that's a good idea. I'll definitely add a retry/suicide button for bosses.

Glad you liked the Puzzle Difficulty room! :D That whole part was inspired largely by Silent Hill 3, whose hardest "riddle difficulty" setting features some notoriously obtuse puzzles which sometimes require relatively esoteric knowledge from the real world; the very first puzzle in SH3 is the "Shakespearian Anthology Puzzle", to give you a sense of what it's like.

Yikes, yeah. Maybe I should add an option to guarantee a (non-missiles) weapon which can break blocks before the Sandzone?

Thanks, these details will be helpful. And yeah, the saws could probably really use some spawn-in animation. You're right that they're not deadly until they start spinning, though.

Ah yeah, I guess the walls around the treasure chest probably do read a lot like a secret, don't they. I put that in there because I thought it was a little bit fun to run on top of them. So I'll either make sure that they're far enough from the outer walls that nobody will make that same mistake, or I'll actually put something something up there to get...

One thing I forgot to comment on, refighting bosses. I do have some fairly novel ideas for a boss rush mode that I'd like to do eventually. I think that'll *probably* have to wait for the full game, though.

Hey, thanks again for playing!

Even though he's something that nearly every player will encounter, Sarcoph Augustus is technically an optional boss. So it's not unusual that you got the completion screen without beating him.

Yeah, the amount by which the focus mode concentrates your first is fairly subtle for balance reasons. For regular STGs usually the trick as far as positioning goes is to keep your player aligned with the enemies / bosses in order to deal optimal damage. Since Vacant Kingdom has 360 degree aim, that dynamic can't be the same. So instead, the risk-reward dynamic for positioning is based more on distance from the boss, and the amount by which your bullets arc outwards is critical for tuning that. Still there might be something I can do to make it more obvious that focusing concentrates your fire. Maybe longer bullets would emphasize the direction more? I'll play around with it.

I do have some plans on the front of NPCs not being forgotten. It's sort of alluded to in Prologue For A..., but I won't say for fear of over-promising. Good to hear that the moodiness music grew on you, I was worried that some people might think it clashed too much with the relative lightheartedness of the story. Noted on the highlight color contrast, little suggestions like that are very helpful!

Hey, thanks for playing!

It sounds like you might be the player who is the most experienced with danmaku games so far, based on the success of your challenge run. So, I'll trust your judgement that the hitboxes might be a little too large and I'll have a look at things. At some point I did do some testing to make sure that the hitboxes lined up with the sprites exactly, but it's possible that some newer bullets or some changes may have thrown that off the mark. And even so, it still might feel better if I shave some pixels off of some hitboxes here and there. 

Besides the screencap you posted, were there any bullets types in particular you where felt the hitboxes were especially off? Just asking so that I can give those some extra scrutiny.

Yeah, the perspective sometimes making the height of things hard to perceive is something I'm aware of, and there are a few areas I've been meaning to tweak to make a bit more intuitive to understand. Do you recall any spots in particular which confused you?

Noted on the hourglass damage boost. I used to have it during the sort of freeze-frame moment in the Mandrake fight, but cut it because that whole sequence is already verbose and the that information seemed non-essential. I suppose throwing it in the item description would help, but I think not every player will read that. I'll think more about the right place to put that information.

Noted on the frame drops too, I still need to do a big optimization pass.

(1 edit)

It's a stupid Super Monkey Ball 2 reference which I totally expect to slightly confuse a lot of people, but which I still refuse to remove. If you really want it, notice that the "w" is available in the bottom right kaomoji.

Hey, I'm really sorry guys. I definitely broke the game when I pushed out a new build this afternoon. If you download the game again, it'll be fixed.

Now that people other than me are playing this game, I'll have to make it a habit to start testing the actual release binary so that this doesn't happen again.

Hi, and thanks for playing!

Good point about the save points. Maybe they're a strange inclusion right now given the lack of threat of losing progress and the ubiquity of their presence before boss fights. I'll have to think about whether they're really necessary.

Noted on the performance on Mandrake's (flower boss) final phase. That pattern runs fairly poorly on my PC too. I haven't really hunkered down and really optimized the engine yet, but I will surely do that before the final game is released.

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed fighting Orobas, he was a lot of fun to design. The last phase was supposed to inspire a sort of playful feeling of unfairness.

In regards to the abrupt starting to the Mandrake fight, I totally agree. There's a number of things like that which I plan to do eventually but which I determined were not totally necessary for the closed beta. I also don't like how the player and bosses just disappear instantaneously when they die, I plan to have death sprites eventually.

I'm glad you enjoyed the movement. I'm kind of divided on whether I should include more platforming-esque challenges, because a fair amount of player have have had difficulty interpreting the perspective of game. I try to use a consistent visual language for raised blocks that you can walk on, and raised blocks that are just walls. But, despite that, it's still very common for players to test whether they can walk right onto a cliff which is actually supposed to be like 5 tiles too tall. Maybe I'll just have to be really clever with my design and save the tricky stuff for optional secret areas/items.

I'm ecstatic to hear that you enjoyed the NPC interactions and little environment jokes. I'd like to think that some of the jokes definitely comes across as the sort of thing which could only exist in a game where the writer has nobody higher up to answer to suggest things like "Okay dude, maybe let's cool it with the archaic 19th-century pseudoscience references and the September-Eleventh joke??"

And yeah, I think maybe the decision to have a world with not so many NPCs is a bit at odds with the decision to make a dialogue-heavy game. I've tried to balance it out by giving them more to say than your average RPG game, but it's probably not a setting decision I'll make again. Your point about NPCs not having new dialogue in relation to things you've seen is one that has me thinking. I've spent a lot of effort making sure that NPCs have lines when you do something slightly unconventional or out of order, but I think adding new dialogue like you've described with be a better place to spend energy.

I agree that Sarcoph Augustus is probably too hard for easy, and I've tried to rectify that in the latest update. We'll have to see what playtesters say.

In regards to combat outside of bosses, please see my answer to modwhgmh.

Hi and thanks for playing. I'm glad to hear that you found the world intriguing and that I was able to make a genre that you don't normally like appealing.

It's good to hear that you were able to backpedal and get the August Attire even after skipping it. The "hey you missed an important item" is pretty blunt I feel, but I was worried that some players might just ignore that message, find the game too hard and quit.

I think it's been a fairly universal opinion that [on Intended Experience difficulty] Sarcoph August is a bit too challenging, and that Orobas, Oracle Of Obscurity is too easy. Especially considering that most players will fight Sarcoph first. I've already made Orobas more challenging, and I hope to tweak Sarcoph later today.

I feel that in terms of getting the most out of development time, the sort of boss-rush format is a very practical choice for me. It takes me a long time to design and implement bosses, so it's good that I can usually squeeze a good 10-30 minutes of gameplay out of players for most of them. Normal enemies would still take while to develop, but probably wouldn't provide as much dev-to-gameplay time value. The other issue is that I think that hiding behind terrain and kiting would be very powerful when fighting enemies on the overworld, so I would almost be required to make areas have an arena-like design in order to make enemies work well, I feel.

That isn't to say that I'll never explore the idea of having lower-tier challenges. Maybe something interesting would be to have some weaker enemies that you fight on their own, only to have them appear later as minions during a boss fight. We'll see!

Thanks for your feedback!

Vacant Kingdom community · Created a new topic CHANGELOG
(2 edits)


  • Balance Changes
    • Sarcoph Augustus
      • Phase 5 has been made considerably more forgiving on Easy.
    • Orobas, Oracle of Obscurity
      • Phase 1 has been made more difficult on Intended Experience.
      • Phase 3 has been made more difficult on Intended Experience.
  • Mouse is now locked inside game window during gameplay. (Unless you are using a gamepad.)
  • Spectral Suites Basement layout has been tweaked to prevent the player from getting stuck with no option other than to quit the game. 
  • Fixed visual glitch where boss direction indicator skull was drawn on top of pause menu.

Thanks so much for playing, it's good to hear that it was a smooth ride for you!

1) Yeah, I'd say in z-sorting all of the sprites is the part of my game was by far the hardest technical thing to get right during development. I can rearrange the geometry in individual spots to fix issues like this, but at some point I'd have to overhaul the engine to fix it entirely. I do have some ideas of ways I could rework the sorting, but time is precious and I think it probably makes more sense to spend time working on content instead. I feel the z-sorting is mostly pretty good right now, and I assume that this is the kind of thing that people will stop noticing after a while, just like how some minor clipping is a relatively accepted fact of 3D graphics.

2) Thanks for this correction. I'm terrible at proofreading. ^^;;

(1 edit)

Hey, thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I know what you're talking about in relation to the room with the 3 market stalls. Players often have a tendency to explore the north-east and north-west entrances before they figure out that there's entrances on either side of the bottom of the room. I think maybe I'll change those to one-way exits, so that your only real choices when you first get to that room are on the bottom left and right.

Being able to use the mouse for menus is definitely a highly requested feature that I want to add. It's going to be a bit tough to find the time for it when so many other things are vying for my attention, but I do want to add that in the near future. 

Greying out previously selected conversations is another thing I'd love to do, but unfortunately it would be difficult to implement with the way I do my dialogue scripting right now. I would like to do it eventually, but it'll require some reworking. I think the right time to do that would be if I end up going back through all of the scripts to make them translation-friendly. So maybe you'll see it if that ever happens!

That's on purpose so that you don't accidentally select an option by accident while mashing through text or whatnot. It should happen during every instance when you're presented with a dialogue option, actually. I appreciate the report nonetheless, though!

(1 edit)

Hey folks! This is where anyone and everyone can post their thoughts on Prologue For A Vacant Kingdom. Of course, you could also create your thread and post your feedback there, if you feel so inclined.

Here are some questions to give you an idea of the sorts of things I'm wondering about. 

  • Did you get stuck or frustrated at any point? If so, where?
  • Did you enjoy the combat? Were any of the mechanics hard to understand?
  • Did you enjoy the dialogue and story? Did you think it was funny? Did you think characters were too wordy?
  • What difficulty did you play on? Did you find it appropriately challenging?
  • How did the game run on your computer? Did any parts perform poorly? (If so, it would help me if you could post your PC specs!)

However, these are by no means the only things I'd like to hear from you. Please feel free to post any and all thoughts you have on the game. :)

Hey folks! This is a thread for you to post all sorts of bug reports.

A couple suggestions that would really help me out:

  • If applicable, screenshots will go a long way to helping me understand and replicate your bug. Please take them if you can!
  • If your game crashes, you can press Ctrl+C to copy the full error so that you can paste it here.

Thank you!

Hey! Thanks for the bug report and for the VOD! I'll definitely be watching the whole thing.

As for the bug itself, I guess this is sort of the flip side of a bug I already knew about. Chako's sleep sequence is based around whether or not you have to lipstick, so: (1) If you already have the lipstick, then you can never get the item which was placed there, (2) If you don't have the lipstick, then you can collect the item which was placed there an infinite amount of times.

I'll try to have this fixed fairly soon, although I'm a little busy these days so I can't promise it will be immediately.

Yeah... it's supposed to have some text. I wonder why you're not seeing it... Hm... Is there anything uncommon about your system that you can think of?

Regardless, I imagine the randomizer will still work, on-screen instructions or not. Here's how you can use it:

  1. Drag and drop your Cave Story folder onto the Cave Story Randomizer window. 
  2. If the randomization was successful, you'll wind up with a folder called "data" inside Cave Story Randomizer's folder.
  3. Overwrite the files in your copy of Cave Story with the versions inside that "data" folder. Don't forget to save a backup of the originals!

(1 edit)

Hi! Sorry, I just saw this. Can you send a screenshot so I can see what you mean by "a background"? The application itself should contain instructions. My guess is that it's not displaying for you? I think you might need to be able to run at least OpenGL 2.1 in order for it to work, that could be the issue.

The game normally has two life pots.

  • Jenka gives you the first.
  • A dog in the plantation gives you the 2nd if you've already used Jenka's by that point. This dog will also always give you a life capsule.

Jenka's Life Pot actually isn't randomized, because I'm silly and keep forgetting to add it.

The both of the items which the dog gives you are randomized. And I've removed the already-has-Life-Pot check, so the dog should always give you two items, regardless of whether you're holding a Life Pot or not.

So, to summarize: I don't think there's anything strange about what happened to you which would lead me to believe that there's a bug. Maybe just a lot of people don't realize that in a normal play-through you can get two Life Pots. I'll remember to randomize Jenka's Pot in the next release, though!

Thanks for playing!

The aforementioned version 0.6 has been released. So please download it and tell me whether you think the process is easier to understand now! c: