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Survival Horror MV <<OPEN DEVLOG! Follow our progress!>>

A topic by Watermark RPG created Oct 29, 2018 Views: 1,006 Replies: 30
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Yay! There's now a project subforum! 

So...about our project. SURVIVAL HORROR MV!!!!!

Ok honestly, we don't know what the title will be yet. That's just a working title. But why start posting now? Because...

This year our team would like to try something completely different: OPEN DEVELOPMENT! In years previously, we’ve gone the secretive route where nothing is revealed until the game is nearly done. This year we want to try the opposite: you will get a firsthand look at how the game is progressing. I will try to update daily if possible. NO SECRETS!

The general idea is this: We post our progress on our entry openly for everyone to see. You are free to comment or leave suggestions. In fact, we may actively ask for your opinion on certain things. We welcome any and all comments on the game: positive or negative. Later on we may even post alphas for people to try out. If we do end up using your idea you will be credited in the Special Thanks section of the credits! (This doesn't count as direct participation in the contest and won't count towards your quota. In other words, you don't get any prize money if we win. LOL.)

Frankly, we don't worry that anyone will steal our ideas cause we're all creative people here who wants to do our own thing, eh? XD We think this method might be fun; we might get some interesting feedback. Also maybe this could be helpful to newbies who would like to see how someone else creates a game from scratch.

Well, as the contest just started we have absolutely no idea what we'll be doing except that it's gonna be a survival horror game. And that it will use Vexed's Pop horror tilesets as the base. So for now, we're just gonna call the game "Survival Horror MV" till we figure out the official name.

Here goes. You're welcome to leave feedback.


<<<<< DAY 1 >>>>>

Yay! IGMC has officially started! So first off, let's get the team together. We got our old pals CuckooOrange and Miss Nile on board! I'm still trying to get a hold of Richter...but he may be busy this year. Well, cross my fingers and hope he joins. Also I sent out invitations to some longshots, I don't think my chances are good but what the hey, gotta try right?

Well, let's get started.

First, let's Start a New Project!

That's always fun. A pristine green field with our default hero guy. Then time to make it a Foundation, which consists of:

  1. Deleting all files that won't be used.
  2. Putting in tilesets, characters, faces, and other images that will be used. In our case, it's the entire Pop DLC line (which I own) from Pop Horror City, Character sets to Slasher Forest.
  3. No music yet. Will get to that later.
  4. Basic database setup.

So we end up with something like this:

Always good to have a clean foundation to start a game on. 

Now, for the actual game. First, THE STORY! So, here it is...TADAAA!!!

A young man arrives at this mysterious town, where his missing girlfriend was last seen. He's there to find her. Little does he know what he's really getting himself into...

And that's it. I'm sure we'll come up with something better soon. In fact, that story might even get thrown out before the end. No one knows at this point.

Miss Nile suggested that we should have multiple endings based on choices. Good idea. We'll see how to work that in sometime.

Well that's it for today. More forthcoming tomorrow.


That's a very nice and clean foundation for your game. :D
Those project screens made me feel nostalgic, I used to tinker with RM2K and RM2K3 way back...
Good luck with your project! (^-^)/

That story bit reminds me of Silent Hill 2, hehe... It's an intriguing way to kick off the plot!


<<<<< DAY 2 >>>>>

A young man arrives at this mysterious town, where his missing girlfriend was last seen. He's there to find her. Little does he know what he's really getting himself into...

Well. That storyline didn't even last 24 hours. We'll still keep the man looking for his girlfriend part, but alter it to:

A young man is driving with his girlfriend to a weekend vacation in the woods when suddenly SOME EVENT causes them to lose consciousness. The man wakes up in a strange hospital alone and disoriented. He goes looking for his girlfriend. Weird stuff starts to happen.

Next, since we know the game is to be 60 minutes, let's sketch out a simple outline of what could happen:

  • Opening: 3 minutes
  • Simple Puzzle and Tutorial: 5 min
  • Exploration and Kewl Fights: 5 min
  • Puzzle: 5 minutes
  • Something Significant happens Midway: 5 m
  • Puzzle: 5 minutes
  • Exploration and Kewl Fights: 5 min
  • Puzzle: 5 minutes
  • Hero in Deep Trouble: 5 min
  • Exploration: 5 min
  • Endgame and Boss fight: 10 mins
  • Ending Scene: 5 min (Good Ending/Bad Ending)

Getting the story down is the hardest part of this phase. Nothing else can continue until we at least have a rudimentary sketch.


<<<<< DAY 3 >>>>>

Let's see, things done today:

  • Setup a few communication sections in our devlog
  • Sent out some e-mails to reserve commission spots for needed sprites next week
  • Unfortunately richter is too busy to join us this year but he wishes us best of luck! Will miss you richter!

Then got down to write that story. Huh. What to write. What to write. What to write....

This is the most difficult part: writing a story given a strict deadline with little inspiration.

Okay, let's just do what we always do when we have no frickin idea what to write: Throw some story cubes!

Ready, set, throw! And we get....



Hmmm? Hmmm....


Girlfriend is sick (germ die). She needs some medicine or will die (vitamin die). The only means of travel fast enough is a giant raven (raven die). However, you either need large amount of money (bag die) or steal the golden egg which controls the bird (egg die). Person with the cure invites you to a feast (cup die). Will only give the cure if you retrieve an amulet (necklace die). The amulet is protected by a clockwork trap (or monster) (gears die). Instead of given you the cure, the person throws you in a pit with a giant snake after getting the amulet (snake die).

<<<<< DAY 4 >>>>>

So what got done today?

  • Got some of the story going.
  • Made first concept drafts of possible maps.
  • Tweaked base program.

Being a survival horror, the story calls for some kind of grotesque monster. Maybe something like this:

I want to have something really scary as maybe the boss monster of the game. Besides the run of the mill normal monsters that the hero should be able to handle, there should be some powerful monster that hunts the protagonist. This monster may even be invincible, and all you can do is run from it. It could be the beasty kind above, or it could be humanoid like a Jason Voorhees say. 

Know any monsters that you find really scary? Suggestions welcome.


I love seeing your process and survival horror games are my JAM! I'm really looking forward to your project and will be following this thread for sure :)

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<<<<< DAY 5 >>>>>

Today was a real busy RL work day so didn't get that much done, but.......


Woohoo!!! She made it!

Alright guys, our team is finally complete. Sorry we gotta lock it at 4 people (else the prize money will stretch too thin. Ha!) . No more new members. We got CuckooOrange on code, Miss Nile on maps, Linhtendo on graphics, Me on making unreasonable demands of everyone. So by our powers combined....

Ok, maybe not that. XD

But this team will rock!

Now, for those of you who don't know Linhtendo, she's a fantastic artist. A whiiiillllle back, like back in the stone age, for a game I planned, she drew the protagonist valkyrie Brynhild for me:

Isn't that beautiful? (This is for a valkyrie game, which incidentally hiddenone also drew a bunch of amazing sprites for but it never got made yet cause of various reasons such as me being lazy okay that game WILL get made at some point! Just not for this contest.)


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<<<<< DAY 6 >>>>>

Today's progress:

  • Sent off new map directions to Miss Nile.
  • Sent off ABS directions to CuckooOrange
  • Get Linhtendo onboard with the current progress.

Then spent the rest of the time looking at horror games and movies. Specifically, this one:

Yah very scary movie. Well the game's goal is to scare the bejeezus outta ya folks right? So first gotta find ways to scare the bejeezus outta myself. :D

A big challenge of this game is to figure out how to get the maximum fear factor using only 2D pixel graphics as opposed to 3D first person POV. Some things noticed during plays/watching vidoes of horror games:

  1. They make you open doors from room to room, so you never know what might pop up in the next room.
  2. Hero travels in darkness with flashlight, so you are always afraid what might pop up behind you or around you.
  3. They make you walk in corridors with corners, so you are always scared what's around the next corner.
  4. "Harmless" jump scares. They have stuff that falls down, makes noises, etc. It's really harmless but creates sense of apprehension. 
  5.  Harmful jump scares. Usually in the form of some monster that chases you. These are used successfully in RM horror games such as Witch's House.

Still trying to figure out would be scary in a 2D environment. Any suggestions welcome! What would you like to see in a horror game?


I feel music has a big impact in horror.


If you have time check out Cardiophobia or a lets play of it. Its a great horror puzzle game made in rpg maker some time ago and one of my favorites.

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<<<<< DAY 7 >>>>>

The game is slowly coming together. So here's what's up so far.

  • CuckooOrange has begun the ABS, but it's still slow going. Lots of code I understand. Hopefully we have a working prototype by end of week.
  • Some initial suitably creepy maps by Miss Nile! Looking good! I've actually never used the Pop set in a game before, and now it looks like it's a good fit for a horror game. Miss Nile's doing a great job with it. First we need a foundation, and then I'm thinking how we can add them lights.

  • I am still agonizing about where the story should go, and what Linhtendo needs to draw. Mainly, I'm stuck on who to make the "Big Bad" of this game. I started wanting to have this Leatherface chainsaw kinda guy, but now I'm having doubts. Because a chainsaw maniac is so LOUD. You can hear it coming from a mile away, so dunno how to build tension with that. Maybe you start hearing a chainsaw sound and you go, Oh Oh! Better run?
  • Need to have the necessary sprites soon so they can be sent off to the commission spriters.

Maps look great! :D


<<<<< DAY 8 >>>>>

Settled on our protagonist for this game, who we will call Gabriel:

Those of you familiar with the Pop set will know him as Male6. I picked him because he seems like the average office worker guy, not too athletic but not too weak either. As this game won't be a gun blazing power fantasy, our hero needs to be an average joe who's vulnerable. 

The question now is, whether we give him a strong back story so he's more interesting, or keep him blank on purpose so he serves better as the player's surrogate in the game. I think there's trade-offs both ways.

Due to RL work and traveling arrangements, I probably won't be updating in the next few days. But progress shall still be made!

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<<<<< DAY 11 >>>>>

Whew! Now that I finished all my day job duties (for the time being), time to get back to IGMC! 

So while I was otherwise occupied, the team's been making good progress. Miss Nile's finished more than a third of the maps, and that ABS is chugging along slowly but surely. We should have some wonderful artwork from Linhtendo soon too!

A great development these few days are the completion of several poses by our commission artist and longtime RM veteran Matseb! He works super fast and delivers what you need. Highly recommended! Here's a pose of our hero Gabriel swinging a crowbar:


Isn't that cool?

Originally I actually wanted our hero to swing a nail studded bat like Stevie:

Great hair&badass bat: All you need to fight evil.

But then it seems kinda unreasonable to find something like this in a hospital, where Gabe starts out. So I found this crowbar icon in the Pop dlc's and it looks real good: equally practical and wicked. So crowbar it is! Great for smashing stuff and monsters yeah?


Actually, hospitals have a maintenance department where they would have nails and a 2x4. Maybe he goes there first and builds one?


Heyho, man! Love the progress you guys make, your game looks awesome! 
Keep up the great work and good luck for the contest! 

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<<<<< DAY 12 >>>>>

Well, we finally settled on a title. The game will be called...drumroll please............


Yup. It will be called Chosen. Now why this is so is because well I can't tell you because it will spoil the game for you. :p

Just know that it is definitely linked to the premise of the game.

On another note, we began work on the GUI for the game. CuckooOrange wanted me to draw it on a napkin, so napkin he will get:

Or paper towel. Same difference.

As is evident from my fabulous art skills, that is why I am not handling the art. The final GUI might be different depending on coding difficulty and eventual practicality of the setup. We'll see.


<<<<< DAY 13 >>>>>

All advice says Sound will make or break a horror game. I guess it's time to go digging for some sound and music in my big dump of DLCs gotten during Steam sale binges. Well, here's something that is definitely going in:

And I think this might be fitting too:

Lastly, I think a sprinkle of this might be useful, even though it's not strictly horror:

I will put these on my phone and listen to them relatively frequently. It's been my experience that it takes a while to find the right music. Of course, the best way would be to hire someone to compose custom music, but the budget for this game is already reaching dangerous levels. We'll have to make do with public material.


<<<<< DAY 14 >>>>>

Today let's showcase some of Miss Nile's maps! Below is the first iteration of the Bloody Basement!

Miss Nile is doing a great job with the Pop horror set! The area will be even scarier once we turn off all the lights and force our hero to trudge through it in the darkness.

So recently I looked at some videos of the top down horror game Darkwood.

I really like how you can swivel your light around in this game and only see what your "line of sight" can see. This way enemies can sneak up behind you. Probably too difficult to implement this in MV though. >_< Oh well. It's something to think about.


<<<<< DAY 15 >>>>>

The contest has reached its midpoint. Hoping everyone is doing great! So our team's progress so far:

  • I'm assembling the maps done by Miss Nile and beginning some eventing.
  • Began work on the opening scene, which is mainly just people driving.
  • CuckooOrange still hard at work on the ABS. We should be able to see a working prototype soon.
  • Linhtendo coming in with our first scene sketches! Yay! These will be used in some of the cutscenes throughout the game. This is mainly in consideration of the limitation of pixel. We're hoping with the aid of cutscene art , we can increase the emotional impact of some of the scenes and give players a better overall experience.

Here's one of em awesome sketches:

What's this you say? Who is this woman? How did she end up there?!! 

Well, you'll have to play the game to find out. :p


Drowning is always scary.  This is tough with just one person and only having a couple hours each day after work.  Hoping to have one level done and the overall story put together tonight.  Then will need two more levels and the boss fight.  Will have to see how much gameplay that ends up being. 


Who is that woman? How did she end up here?
Guess I'll have to play the game to find out! ;)


<<<<< DAY 16 >>>>>

One dilemma going into this game is what rating to shoot for. On the one hand, the more general the rating, the wider the audience. On the other hand, the nature of horror games makes it almost impossible to attain anything less than a Teen rating. So here's the general direction the game's gonna take:

  1. It will have at least a Teen,  maybe even close to Mature (Rated R), rating. I believe this is still within the contest rules.
  2. The game will have some gore, but not "piles of bloody mashed body parts everywhere" overkill. Mainly because I'm not a big gore fan. XD
  3. Strong language such as F*** and S*** will be used at times in the game. We won't sprinkle every sentence with them, but it really would break immersion if our characters go "Oopsie daisy!" during intense moments.

Of course, we're aiming to make this as good as a pixel horror game can be. Which means it has to be somewhat scary at the very least. Still, there's only so much you can do with pixel graphics, but just to be on the safe side, I'm still including a fair warning before the game begins:

Players should know before they start that this is designed to be a horror game and may not be suitable for everyone.

However, if uh, we should, and it becomes necessary to make the game suitable for a wider audience, we are definitely open to toning down the game to PG-13 levels (cough...talking to you judges...cough....XD).

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<<<<< DAY 17 >>>>>

I remember the first year I did IGMC I actually spent money on buying advertising. At the time I thought paying for banner space would help us attract more players. It did I suppose, but the effect wasn't as spectacular as I thought it would be. I think marketing and advertising isn't that effective unless one goes past a certain spending tipping point, which is probably beyond the means of most indie developers.

Since our budget is limited, instead of spending it on advertising, this year we're gonna put it into content instead. One of those things is cover art. I've always loved those games with great cover art, so I wanted one for our entry this year too. Since I can't draw worth a damn, and Linhtendo already has much on her plate, we hired the very talented Michael Galefire to draw us this wonderful cover art for Chosen:

Isn't that absolutely stunning? He painted it based on some basic concepts we provided. You can see our hero Gabriel in that cube. Our team really likes it, and I think it's fits the mood of our game very well. Thanks Michael! Phenomenal artist! I highly recommend him.


<<<<< DAY 18 >>>>>

I've always made RPG Maker games controlled by the keyboard. However, Chosen has a more adventure game mechanic that seems to work better with a mouse driven interface.

So while you can still play the game with a keyboard, we're going to design the game as if the player has no keyboard.

Not much more to report today. Everyone hard at work. ^^

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<<<<< DAY 20 >>>>>

So we've been hard at work on the game over the weekend. Putting everything together. Here's a quick progress update:

  • Miss Nile is done all the maps! Yay! Now I got to event all of them. Nooooooooooooo!!!
  • CuckooOrange ran into a problem with the transparency. Now things don't disappear. Oh no! We gotta solve this soon!
  • Linhtendo finished more sketches, will begin coloring. Can't wait to see 'em!

The game's about 50% done, but still lots of work to do. Anyways, here's a screenshot of the game:

There is something on the right side I think...

Ok. I'm just kidding. :p Well, it IS an actual screenshot of the game, but probably not the most glamorous one. Being a horror game, there will be times when our protagonist has to traverse through dark places. Darkness is an enemy. Still, just looking at darkness probably isn't very interesting, so here's one with lights on:

The Pop Horror set works quite well. And the lighting script we're using is Terrax Lighting, which is pretty awesome! 


<<<<< DAY 21 >>>>>

OKAY. The countdown has entered single digits. We are entering the final stretch. It's crunch time!

We will be hard at work on the game so probably won't be updating for a bit.

Here we go! See you later!


Starting to feel it. Best of luck to you and looking forward to your game! :D


Looking forward to seeing the final product and best of luck! Looks like you've got a really interesting plot going on there too :>