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Strung Up Starlight

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A member registered Apr 25, 2018 · View creator page →

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(Thanks for the feedback! I'm glad you're enjoying it so far!)

(As for the locker hook puzzle, rubbing alcohol should have removed the hook, but I'm guessing you haven't clicked on a hint that would have allowed you to use it. This was an attempt on my part to combat meta gaming, but it was a poor decision looking back. The good news is this is the only part of the game that has this issue, as it's a holdover from when I first started making puzzles. Try checking the poster in the janitor's closet.)

(Regardless, I hope you enjoy the rest of the game. Thank you for playing!)

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(Thank you for playing the game, and thank you once more for your feedback! I should probably lighten the contrast in the cable a little bit, because there have been other people who have had a similar issue. Maybe sometime in the next patch?)

(I agree with your assessment that some parts of the story are rushed. When I originally wrote the game, I had planned to make it much longer, but my interest in the project waned so I had to dramatically shorten it. But you're right; I definitely could have done a lot more.)

(As for a sequel, maybe someday, but not someday soon. My hands still need to recover, and I have a few projects that I would like to tackle first, but I left the story open for a reason, and hope I can return to it.)

(In any case, I'm glad that you enjoyed the game!)

(Hey, thanks!)

(Hi! Thank you for playing, and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the project! I'm new to this whole 'game dev' thing, so your feedback is much appreciated. I'll be sure to keep the silhouettes in mind for my next project!)

(Hello!)

(Thank you for the feedback! Unfortunately, I don't have an official walkthrough included, but as for hints, I would check the science classroom next to Sage. Best of luck!)

(Well, I finished. I think I ruined my hand in the process, but at least I'm done. Check it out here: https://strung-up-starlight.itch.io/the-academy-window-of-opportunity )

(Agreed; teleport dodges are the best. It looks great so far!)

(Well, it's less "school" as much as it is "a bunch of weirdos roleplaying school during a plague outbreak," but I'm glad you think it has promise. I'm a little worried it will turn out poorly, but I would much rather finish it and rewrite the ending in a later update than have it sit in my project folders and haunt me with its incompleteness.  Anyway, thanks for the compliment!)

(Hello there.)

(A while back, I made a demo for a game that I was supposed to finish in two weeks, but I overstepped my boundaries and ended up leaving everything on a cliffhanger, with little interest in finishing it. You know, like a jerk.)

(The game itself is... not the greatest, but I can't let it go because it went unfinished. So I'm returning to get this thing out of my head so I can work on other projects in good faith. It's called "The Academy"-- an adventure/puzzle game made in RPG Maker MV, staring a young girl attempting to escape an oppressive school in the aftermath of an apocalypse.)

(I'll update weekly on what I'm adding/doing. At the moment, the outline is finished, the puzzle templates are made, and I've converted the old maps to tilesets in hopes that the game will run faster-- apparently, RPGM MV doesn't do well with parallax. When I have new screenshots to show off, I'll be sure to add them here.)

(Thank you for reading. Good luck with your projects, everyone!)

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(Hello!)

(In order to practice RPG Maker 2003 and pixel art/animations for later projects, I've decided to make a short game for the Wholesome Jam. This is more of an announcement than anything, but I do have one thing to show off.)

(The game's title at the moment is April: The Liminal Messenger. There's no dialogue: just a messenger who travels through puddles and needs to get to an apartment building on the other side of town.)

(I've got a little of the base game done with placeholder graphics, and I'm working on the character sprites right now. Speaking of which, this is April:)

(Anyway, it's still a work in progress, but hopefully someone might like it. Thanks for reading!)

(EDIT: Due to a sudden lack of motivation and generally feeling like I've got too much to handle, I've decided to leave the Jam. Sorry.)

(Hi! Thank you so much for playing through my game! I'm glad you enjoyed the story!)

(I do plan on creating a full version, though I can't give a definitive release date because I'm in a weird period of my life right now. And I'm also stuck between multiple ideas. That said, I do plan on finishing it, and have already made improvements to the menu system.)

(Anyhow, thanks for the kind words!)

(Post-Mortem)

(So, I finished. Time to overanalyze everything again.)

(What Went Right:)

  (- Art: This was my second attempt with pixel art, and it went much more smoothly than the first time. Though considering I used to use the brush tool for pixel art, there's really nowhere to go but up. The art ended up being very simple and clean, which is something I can get behind, as it gave the game its own style and made it easier to reproduce.)

  (- File Size: One of my goals for the jam was to reduce the size of my files after my disaster of a fist game ended up being half of a gigabyte. And after plenty of experimentation, I managed to whittle down the final size to about 56 mb. That much I'm proud of.)

  (- Completion: This could go either way. I had originally intended the game to go on for much longer, exploring what happened after the ending. Now I've left it on a cliffhanger, but I managed to figure out that I wouldn't be able to finish the whole thing and modified the plan. Being able to adapt and improvise in jams is an incredibly important skill, and one of the few that I have.)


(What Went Wrong:)

  (- Writing: I'm unhappy with the writing, which feels way too overdramatic and exposition-heavy. If I had to rewrite it, it would be a little less on the nose.)

  (- Gameplay: There may still be glitches in the menu format, and I still can't get the menu to go away by pressing the button to bring it up again. If I ever release a full version, I'll make sure that gets implemented.)

  (- Puzzles: Even with play testing, I can't tell if the puzzles are too confusing or too easy. I don't know if I telegraphed too much or too little, or if I didn't emphasize the menu in puzzle-solving enough.)

  (- Completion: Even though I completed the game, I still didn't complete my goal in the beginning.)

(And that's about it for now. At the moment, I'm awaiting feedback, and might update this later. Until then, thanks for reading!)

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Game Title/URL: https://strung-up-starlight.itch.io/the-academy-jam-version

Pitch/Information: (An adventure game developed in RPG Maker concerning a weird fantasy world with a contagion edge to it.)

I'd like feedback on: (Dialogue, storyline, worldbuilding, writing in general. I would also like feedback on the puzzles: were they too easy? Too difficult? I feel like when I release games, I never receive any comments on them, so I never know if I'm doing okay or if I need to improve something. Any direction would be nice (especially if there's any glitches or something very obvious that I've missed), but I would specifically ask you to focus on these things in particular.)

(How did I not notice this develop before? This looks amazing!)

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(Day Thirteen:)

(It's out! If you would like to play The Academy, please make sure to check out the Jam Page, found here:)

(https://strung-up-starlight.itch.io/the-academy-jam-version)

(Coming soon...)

(So this is going to be the final update. I managed to shrink the game down even further by deleting all of the audio files I didn't need and running more images through TinyPNG. It's at around 71 MB, which, if I can get the deployed version to work correctly, will be perfect. I'll likely have to add a few back in to mesh with the plugins, but at least it isn't close to half a gig anymore. I ran the Public Domain music I'm using through Audacity this morning to get the loops working. They sound pretty janky, but they'll do for now.)

(I'm still unhappy with the writing, but if I hear enough positive things about the gameplay or puzzles, I'll turn this entry into a real thing, using the improved story ideas I've thought up in the meantime. Otherwise, even if everyone hates it and it goes down as the next E.T. for Atari, I'm still happy that I managed to get this far. Over my first jam, I struggled to complete a mediocre game in eight weeks. Now I can do that in two.)

(So for everyone who followed this Dev Blog or answered my questions here or in the Discord, thank you so much. I really appreciate the help. This may not be my first jam, but it's still my second, so any help was completely welcome. Good luck on your project, and I'll see you tomorrow.)

(Yeah, but I was just curious on how to fit both into one download.)

(Day Eleven:)

(Slowly but surely, I'm getting there. I spent most of the day play testing, and got a fair number of bugs. I'm at the point where I can play it all the way through, and that may have to do for now. I also had my video game-hating mother play it to see how a completely inexperienced player would do things. The results were informative, and even more bugs were squashed.)

(I'm most worried about exporting, so I also went through and manually either shrunk or deleted files I don't think I'll need. I got the file size down to about 425 mb, but that's still too much. I'm afraid that letting RPG Maker get rid of the files for me will mess with the plugins --which isn't a completely unfounded fear-- so I'll be using another plugin to further compress the file. I'll see what else I can either shrink or get rid of before I test deployment tomorrow.)

(All that's left now is the music and the credits, which I'll take care of tomorrow. Then one more round of play testing. Then exporting, and figuring out what I need to fix when that inevitably has issues. If anyone has any further suggestions for shrinking the file size, please let me know.)

(And that's about it. So close, and yet so far.)

(Okay, cool. I'm using RPG Maker MV. I use a Mac primarily, so I like to have the option, but I can do a Windows-only export.)

(Hello! So I couldn't help but notice that most exported games are for two systems. How do you do that?)

(Day Ten:)

(Ladies and gentleman and everyone in-between, we have a title screen:)


(It's not crazy impressive, but I'm happy with how it turned out. When in doubt about color schemes, just pick different shades of the same color, am I right? Anyway, on the real stuff I worked on today:)

(All of the art is complete, including small events and one character animation. I even have a little instructions page made up. I'm implementing it into the game now as I type. I also went back and figured out what was wrong with the lighting, and also decided that it looks a little too soft for the game at the moment, and one scene in particular was downright ugly because of all of the color I tried to add. So I made the lighting look a little more segmented, so it actually fits with the otherwise flat shading and colors of the school. Here's the new version of the classroom:)


(I think it looks much cleaner. I've also added finishing touches to the story, which I'm still unhappy with, as it's way too cliche, like a YA dystopian novel. I'll refine some of the writing as I go, but the important thing is that it's finished and playable. It wasn't possible for me to write a masterpiece in twelve days, and I have to keep that in mind.)

(All that's left after tonight is playtesting and music. And then I release this half-polished adventure to the rest of mankind.)

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(Day Eight/Nine:)

(I'm not going to finish. And if I do, it won't be good. I'm going to keep trying, but these two thoughts are paralyzing me. They were keeping me up last night. I'm just not in a good spot right now.)

(Yesterday, I completed the maps in their entirety. It took me a full twelve hours. I have the final version of the map I showed off, but not on this computer. I'll post it in a bit. I sprited the teacher's sprites, and I'm working on more now. By tomorrow, I want to have all of the art done so I can focus on bug hunting.)

(I got some bug hunting done today, and discovered two big glitches that sent me back a few hours over some really stupid mistakes. And I still need to add music, event an introduction that doesn't drop exposition on your head like a barbell, add more dialogue and the credits page, and test to make sure the maps actually work. Oh, and then upload that in time and make the game page look pretty. I'm getting there, but nowhere near as fast as I need to.)

(I don't like the story or characters or dialogue anymore. I can do much better, but I don't have time.)

(EDIT: Here is the final classroom. It's not fantastic, but it's over.)


(EDIT 2: Just testing the lighting and it's giving me issues. If I can't fix it by tomorrow, I'll nix it.)

(Day Seven:)

(I'm back and things have happened. I spent all day pretty much mapping, and I got the bases of about four of them done, leaving me with three tomorrow. I'm not crazy happy with them (especially the front entrance), but I'm happy that they're done. I'm worried that their appearance won't fit in with the lore/world I've built, but it's nothing a little color and lighting  can't fix! I have the bases in black, white, and grey at the moment, so it's looking a little like Suits.)

(I did some bug-hunting as well and discovered some minor spelling mistakes and placements of windows and a switch being weird. Pretty much nothing that was disastrous or required a full day of fixing like, say, Day Three. But I still have a lot to do, including eventing some cutscenes, writing more dialogue and flavor text, and working with an often frustrating parallax mapping system, and with the deadline looming closer, it's getting pretty panic-inducing.)

(Also: why are puzzles so hard to create? I feel like all of mine either turn out too obvious and treat the player like a toddler, or are of the moon logic variety. It's maddening. I'll have people test it more to see what they think.)

(So I mentioned some time back that I'd have screenshots, and now I finally do. Here is the placeholder map for the first classroom:)


(...And here is the current version of it, with no color or lighting:)


(...Man, those desks look weird. Oh, well: the deadline approaches. Finally, I have the main character's sprite:)

(This is Ivy. I was having some trouble with her color scheme yesterday, so thank you to everyone on Discord, as well as everyone in my immediate vicinity, who helped me pick out which color to go with. I reused her failed color schemes (i.e. coral pink/sea foam and purple/darker purple) into other characters whose personalities complement the schemes better.)

(That about wraps things up. Thanks for reading!)

(Day Five/Six:)

(Main characters sprites are finished, and I'm starting on the maps. Making progress on puzzles. Will return to complain when something interesting happens.)

(Day Four:)

(The first puzzle is done, but still needs to be play tested. I've started on the second puzzle, and I'd like to say that I'm halfway done with it, but I know that something will trip me up.)

(I managed to get a template sprite finished for the students, and I'll work on the teacher's tomorrow. I'll post screenshots when I can, but tomorrow will be pretty busy.)

(Not much else to say except that it's late and I'm tired. Here's hoping that I'll get more done tomorrow!)

(Day Three:)

(The first puzzle is finally coming into fruition! Considering that it's day three, it's about time. I'm actually kind of happy with the progress I've made so far, and hoping that the art part doesn't drag me down. I'll find that out tomorrow, as I'll finally have access to the computer with Photoshop again.)

(In addition to that, I squashed a few bugs and ran into a really stupid problem I caused. Basically, I'd put script calls in the plugin command box. God, I felt stupid. Luckily, I caught it pretty early, but I still had to go back and waste my time redoing a lot of work that could've been avoided if I'd just play tested it sooner. And then, I pretty much instantly forgot that lesson, because I forgot to bring up an item menu in pretty much all of the events requiring an item menu. So I had to go back and redo all of those as well. )

(Stupidity aside, I think I'm making good time. I'm trying to focus on the mechanics and actually getting the puzzles done as opposed to lore, because I'll spend too much time on it. When everything's set in place, I'll go back to it.)

(Tomorrow, I complete the first puzzle and fix the remnants of today's mistakes. If time permits, I'll start on art as well.)

(Yeah, I've been advised to avoid the RTP as well, but I'm working with some plugins that won't run without them. I'll be sure to post screenshots when I can, but the maps I'm using are barely presentable at the moment. I like to use parallax maps, so most of what I have so far is just the tilesets scattered about to show what's passable and what isn't. So, a total wreck.)

(I'll be sure to rope some people into playtesting, especially because I'm close to being finished with the first puzzle. Thank you so much for the advice! Good luck with the Jam!)

(Question: did you go on a Fantasy Town Name Generator for your title? The only reason I ask is because that's the exact name I ended up getting for one of the towns in my own game. I saw this and was all, "AH I HAVE TO CHANGE IT NOW!")

(It looks pretty good so far, especially the UI and the movement controls.)

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(Day Two:)

(So I mostly worked on dialogue. Part of the first main puzzle is done, and what this taught me is that there's no way I'll be able to implement the full game. Scope always gets me with this stuff. So I'll strive for the first level, which consists of three main puzzles: big, small, and small respectively.)

(Honestly, the most difficult part has been adding lore and dialogue in a quick way that fits the characters, makes sense, and won't lead to anything hard to implement in the future. I'm also struggling with the introductory cutscene, which runs the risk of being either too vague or too expository. It's hitting that perfect medium that I'm having so much trouble with.)

(I realize that I sort of didn't mention any story in the last one. I want to keep it a bit vague, but the general gist of it is: You play as Ivy, a(n unwilling) student of a particularly controlling Academy, living out life during some kind of plague. One day, Ivy spots an open window in the bathrooms, and suddenly realizes that she can escape. And that's about it for now. I have more, but it's still getting worked out.)

(Other than that, the project looks doable. Let's hope it stays that way.)

(The goal of this Jam is to complete a game, but that may be overreaching for what I have in mind, even though the game I have in mind should be pretty short. So I'll plan for the first level at least, and see what else I can hit from there.)

(So. I've never made a devlog before. And my computer isn't the best, so I can't post a bunch of screenshots or anything (and I'm using stand-in graphics so nothing's particularly impressive at the moment), so here's the gist of what I'm doing:)

     (- I'm going to make an Adventure/Puzzle Game using RPG Maker, utilizing a technique that CrackedRabbitGameplay mentioned in a video. Basically, instead of the Choice menu, which has six options max, you use the Select Item command and set the variables to run differently in each event. It's going to be a mess, but it's easier than learning Javascript in two weeks.)

      (- I plan on using pixel art, which is a medium I'm relatively new to. It will certainly be interesting.)

      (- I'll be using outside sources for music and SFX.)

      (- I would really like to significantly shrink the final file size of this project, because my last one was ridiculous. I'm looking into TinyPNG as well as MVStripper and a SRDude Plugin that works to encode your work. Either way, it will be smaller.)

(As of today, I've evented a menu, and have part of the first puzzle evented out within said menu. All placeholder maps have been created. Honestly, the biggest thing that will hold me back is the art, because I don't have access to my home computer, which had Photoshop.)

(So, hopefully this won't be a bust.)

1. Hi there! What's your name? Want to introduce yourself?

(My "name" is Star. I'm a new dev.)

2. Did you participate in the last jam we held? If so, what do you plan on doing better this time? If not, what's your reason for joining?

(I did not, but I just got done participating in the Dream Diary Jam. I'm joining to continue getting better, because I'm still not great.)

3. What games are your favorites? Did any of them inspire you, or made you want to make your own?

(I have a few. I absolutely loved OFF, from Mortis Ghost. I also like Mirror's Edge, Portal, Silent Hill 2, and Alice: Madness Returns. Mirror's Edge inspired me to make games in the first place, but Alice: Madness Returns influenced my style from then on.)

4. Do you have experience with game development? What did you do/with what engine?

(I have about six hundred hours experience in RPG Maker MV, but it's my first engine and I still can't code.)

5. Tell us about something you're passionate about!

(I love art and writing. I also love psychological horror. It's my dream to combine them into a video game.)

6. What are your goals for this game jam?

(My goal is to finish a written concept I had for a short adventure game awhile back. I'd also like to make the deployment a smoother process, because last time my game was 500 mb.)

7. Any advice to new jammers (if you're a veteran)?

(No veteran, but set a timeline. And have a back-up plan for everything, because odds are something is going to take way too long.)

(Done and almost done. Thank you for your help; it means a lot.)

(Awesome, thank you! I managed to upload the Mac download, but I'm having issues with the Windows one. I may just create another page and link it to the actual submission.)

(Sorry to be a bother, but I still need help. Itch.io is saying that my RPG Maker MV project is too big, but I need all of the original files to be present, or else the plug-ins I used will not work. I'm on a Mac. Is there something I can do to narrow the project size down? Is something like 7-zip an option? I'm currently looking into deleting the M4As and using TinyPNG, but would be interested to know if there's anything else available. Obviously I'm short of time, so any help will be useful. Thank you!)

(I'm also just getting started with pixel art, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but here are some things that I've either been recommended or told:)

 (-Online Tutorials:  If you have the money, I believe that Skillshare and Full Sail University have some good programs, but even if you can't afford them, it's not hard to find alternatives. No matter the program you're using, YouTube is sure to have a tutorial for it. Though I would think that it would benefit you to watch tutorials even if they're program is drastically different than yours, because they are likely to still have good advice. I've been watching MortMort and I've already picked up a few new tricks, and achebit has a sixteen part series about the subject.)

(-Start with the Basics: You know how they tell you never to create your dream game on your first go, because you'll be disappointed that you don't have the skill to finish it and just give up? Same applies to pixel art. Start with shapes, move up to figures, etc., before you tackle a large, animated environment piece.)

(-Practice: As with all art, it pays to set aside a time each day and practice. Even if you don't like it, it's better than doing nothing. Yanfly posted a video about common traps Indie Devs fall into, and he shared the story about the pottery students who were either graded on the quality one pot, or the quantity of pots they made. The group who made more pots ended up being more skilled. So don't worry about how to practice:  just make stuff, and you're guaranteed to improve on your own.)

(That's all I've got. Hope it was helpful.  Anyone more experienced want to take the lead from here?)

(This would be my first time exporting and uploading a game. What do I need to know? How can I be sure my file is playable? Do I need to delete my test saves, or will RPG Maker MV not process those when exported? Thanks in advance!)

(Hm, so maybe connecting the event to a parallel process switch or something? Okay, I'll give that a shot. Thanks for replying!)

(Okay, that makes sense. Sort of like making a Knife Effect, then. Thanks for the help!)

(Hello! Sorry to be "that person," but how do you make an invisibility effect like, say, the ghost in .flow? I'm trying to make it timed so players can't spam it around chasers, though I may just dump this part if I can't figure it out. I'm using RPG Maker MV, and any help would be useful. Thank you!)