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TBT: The Black Tower (prototype)

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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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Hi everyone !
This morning I just revealed my new game project TBT: The Black Tower.

Homepage : http://www.theblacktower.fr
DevBlog : http://2013tbt.blogspot.com

Indiegogo (= Kickstarter)
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-black-tower

TBT is an indie role playing game in development for PC and Mac in english and french. It is inspired by J-RPGs from the PS1 (Xenogears, Final Fantasy, Chrono Cross, Legend of Dragoons…). The game will have a parallel story with ASA: A Space Adventure, though it is not a sequel and doesn’t require to play it first.
TBT: The Black Tower is still at the state of prototype but features beautiful prerendered graphics with a use of camera mapping, a big 3D worldmap, a serious story, and turn-based fightings introducing a system with up to 3 fighters + 3 supporters in the same battle.

The game on Steam Greenlight :
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=148498979

The story :

The Story is based on a sci-fi novel by Simon Mesnard entitled La Tour de l’Espace (The Tower in the Space).

“In 2011, Philippe Forté found a strange alien Cube during a routine mission on the Cobalt-5 satellite, around planet Terra. Hypnotized by this discovery, as if he was being called, he risked his own life to take the dark artefact in his hands. Noone ever heard of him after these events, and Philippe Forté is now known as a crazy astronaut who sacrificed his life for an illusion. Yet, the mystery remains.

In 2032, Yan Forté is a kind of forest ranger and lives in the woods of Lutetia - a country of the Europa continent on Terra. He has decided that he would never walk in the steps of his father Philippe, and that he would devote his whole life on protecting Nature on his beloved planet, instead of exploring the space. Things will suddenly change after he meets Ellana, a young girl with a strange black Die as a pendant around the neck, who came out of nowhere in a cloud of yellow particles…”

The game should release in 2014 if we succeed on Indiegogo.






Videos :

Trailer : http://www.youtube.com/embed/lg6WCKwyPYE

Gameplay :

 

     
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Total Posts: 7110

Joined 2005-09-29

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Yup that text bubble and first screenshot reminded me of good old PS1 RPGs,
apart from bland lead character design, things looking good.

     
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Joined 2004-01-05

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Looks good, I like the overworld map and gigantic sword, very JRPG indeed.

     
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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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Thanks

nomadsoul - 18 March 2013 12:14 PM

apart from bland lead character design

ooowwwwwww reeeeeally ? bland ?!!! He’s a forest ranger after all !

By the way, does anyone know if I can resize the pictures automatically so they fit in the page ?

     
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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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This is the Greenlight page of the project with the first video we shared :

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=138501185

It shows the prototype of the game on the worldmap and in a small village. Please be aware that many things will evolve. I’ll try to show the battle system in the next weeks, and a more complete demo-video should finally appear later.

     
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Total Posts: 164

Joined 2007-11-25

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Looks cool, Simon!

Please, don’t make the encounters random Wink Or if you choose so, I’ll suggest that you do it in a way that won’t hamper the exploration. E.g. FFVII was guilty of that Smile

Anyway, I think you should Kickstart this baby - the old school RPG space may already be slightly crowded, but not many (if any) takes inspiration from the PS1-era RPGs, so you´ll probably have an advantage in that regard.

     
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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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Thanks Jannik !
I’m afraid there will be random battles, though I may have good news : I was planning in making them happen only in new places that you had never visited before. So if you go back on your steps and have earned a certain amount of XP, then the battles will probably be automatically disabled in this area. What do you think of this ? Smile Maybe I’ll find more tips to make the random encounters less painful. I’ll keep it in mind !

     
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Total Posts: 164

Joined 2007-11-25

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While I prefer the possibilities that visible enemies can add in terms of gameplay and story, I can certainly enjoy a game with random encounters, and from a production standpoint RE is clearly the most doable solution for a small indie company.

It’s only if the RE are very frequent it can seriously kill the fun, IMO. And the 30-60 seconds between battles in most areas in FFVII is seriously annoying (a rough estimate, I didn’t use a stopwatch Wink). I like the game a lot, but it would have been a good amount better with a more varied approach to RE.

And that leads me to: Generally I don’t think you should tie RE to a combination of previously visited areas and XP - even if a player is far in the game, he/she will probably still want to do battles and feel the added tension while exploring. Of course, if it fits closely to the story and lore of the game, it can be a good solution.

A suggestion would be that you create a tool that can be used to adjust the interval between encounters. An example:
1. In area (or sub-area) A there are many enemies: The minimum interval is set to 30 seconds and the maximum interval i set to 2 minutes, and then the game randomly choose an interval within the 30 sec/2 min limit between battles, or between a battle and a dialog sequence or cutscene.
2. In area B there are only few enemies, so the interval for that area could be set to e.g. 2 min/6 min.

That way you can also have special events/areas - e.g. sometimes turn RE completely off, or sometimes - depending on story, etc - have fewer/more RE in an already visited area.

Furthermore, you could have spells/items that the player can use or cast on himself or in the area, that for a few minutes makes the enemies attack less often, or not at all, because they are scared of the player - a Fear Spell or something similar. The possibility to escape battles in some circumstances, maybe to the loss of some health points, is another way to add an extra layer of depth to a game with RE, IMO.

BTW, the Kickstart comment was about Kickstarter.com, in case it wasn’t obvious Smile

EDIT: “Of course, if it fits closely to the story and lore of the game, it can be a good solution” - As I said later in the comment, it can occasionally make sense to deactivate battles totally in some areas even if it’s not closely connected to the story/lore - so it sounded like I contradicted myself. “Contextual battles” is likely the best way to describe it.

     
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Joined 2010-02-15

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lol One thing I absolutely hate about JRPG’s are random encounters. I thank JRPGs every day for evolving with ‘visible enemies’. The first game I played that did that properly was Earthbound. It revitalized my love for JRPG’s, especially since my heart was stolen by WRPGs around the same time.

I’m soooooo happy Ni No Kuni didn’t resort to random encounters.

     

Stuart Bradley Newsom - Naughty Shinobi || Our Game: Shadow Over Isolation

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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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As Jannik noticed, it is muuuuuch more easy to create random encounters. I think we will already have a loooooooooooot of other challenges to deal with, and I’m confident in making TBT dynamic and interesting if people can trust me. At least, remember it’s an “indie” game, and that means a lot : you can’t expect Final Fantasy XVII or Dragon Quest XIII. So I prefer to concentrate on something “good but not great” with a neo-retro style, something that works and that I am able to create and makes me proud, instead of trying to go into something “incredible” that we would fail to program and would make the game development perillous. I hope you understand that !

Also, with the power of current PCs, linked with our choice of lowpoly 2.5D graphics, we can greatly shorten the loading time before starting a new battle, and if the fight starts almost immediately, without moving the camera for 20 secondes at least in the arena to show your team and the monsters appear, then you’re immediately taken in the action. On top of that, I don’t want any ending fanfare, so when you finish the fight, you come back almost immediately to the game. I played a looooot of J-RPGs, and I think I know quite a lot of turn-based systems and I start to know what works and what doesn’t. For example, Baten Kaitos was a very good game, but the battles seemed very frustrating to me : not because of the cards system which was excellent, but because the fights were missing of dynamism. And the fact that the ennemies were visible didn’t change that.

However, I understand your point of view Monolith, and I won’t forget it while making the game. I try to take everything into account, even when I disagree. It’s true that I, personally, don’t like when ennemies are visible on the map, because I spend more time trying to avoid them, and I find it frustrating when I fail, which is often the case because usually you can’t. That doesn’t mean everyone in the small TBT development team agrees with me, so we need to find a compromise !

Speaking of random encounters brings me to conclude on the fighting system : many people asked to see pictures of it. I answered that it was too early because we were not ready to show it. All your comments make me more confident in this position : if we show something that is not cool enough, everyone will conclude that we failed. That would be a big mistake, because we’re at the very beginning of the development, I’m very confident, and we still have plenty of time to make adjustments and improve our work.

The development of the prototype of TBT started a few weeks ago, with 2.5 people on it and $0. That’s not enough to create a great game yet, and that’s why we will start a crowdfunding campain soon. Even with my motivation and our passion, it is impossible to create a RPG in these conditions, and we are aware of that.
If people don’t trust us, then of course the development of TBT will stop, and I would understand that the project was not as good as expected. No problem with that, I would abandon the project and move to something else even if it meant crying for a while lol.
But what I don’t want is people to be mistaken and think that what we already presented of the game (pics and videos) is definitive. We want to improve the game. I want to take in account all your suggestions. We can’t add them all to TBT, of course, but everything can still change. That’s what’s important. Everything can still change…

By the way, Jannik, I also take in account your suggestion on the RE, of course. But I’d like to react more specifically on the “Kickstarter” point : in fact, there are a lot of chances that we won’t use kickstarter because we’re not US or UK residents, and that’s necessary to register a project. I know there are some tricks to go through, but I prefer to follow a regular path, and we’ll probably choose Indiegogo. I hope it’s not a problem for bakers who usually use KS…

Thanks for reading ! Wink

     
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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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Hi, if someone is interested, there’s a new trailer of TBT :

     
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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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TBT hits indiegogo with a very ambitious goal.
http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-black-tower

     
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Total Posts: 164

Joined 2007-11-25

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I’m going to pledge and spread the word.

I hope you’re well-prepared - some people underestimate that running a crowdfunding campaign is, from what I’ve read more than once, a full-time job for at least one person (depending on the game and size of the campaign of course).

Good luck!

     
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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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That’s great, Jannik. Thanks.

Yeah I’m aware that it can be a lot of work, and I feel ready for that. I will spend a lot of my time on it. I have 1 main problem right now : press relay ! I contacted many magazines but almost none of them relayed TBT on Indiegogo (while there was some interest when we revealed the first videos of the game).

     
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Total Posts: 164

Joined 2007-11-25

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Cool - I partly wrote it because of your ambitious goal, it’s good you’re aware of it.

Yeah, press attention can be a problem. Some of my advise regarding the press would be (I have a long list of tips, etc., since I might do a crowdfunding someday):

Contact MANY sites - hundreds is better than dozens. And if you’re lucky the ball will start rolling if just one or two major sites post about it, or enough small ones. And not just traditional gaming sites and RPG sites, but also gaming blogs, etc. Sometimes it’s better to contact specific writers rather than write to the general site email, if the person is a RPG fan.

Post press releases more than once during the campaign, but don’t spam (the bigger IGG updates could be a good “excuse”). Make sure you write that you are available for interviews.

And some misc. thoughts: Start threads on RPG forums, etc (maybe also GOG). Write in updates on IGG that you would appreciate if backers help spread the word via Facebook/Twitter/mail/forums. Use twitter. Use Facebook. Do an “Ask Me Everything” on Reddit. Create banners and avatar pictures that people can use on forums and Facebook. Contact some of the more famous YouTubers like Matt Chat for interviews and game demos (if you have something playable).

I guess you are aware of all the RPG sites, but from memory, some of the more popular ones:
RPGGamer
Gamebanshee
RPGfan
Rampant Games (blog)
Indierpgs.com
RPGWatch (they occasionally post about JRPGS)
RPGCodex (though they are generally not very friendly towards JRPGs, almost hostile)

     
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Total Posts: 413

Joined 2012-10-03

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This is amazing Jannik ! You should write a guide “how to get crowdfunded” Smile

I think I already followed most of this process but there are still a lot of sites to contact. Maybe the others need some time to assimilate the project too.
As you say, I don’t want to look like a spammer, so I prefer to wait between each message.

Reddit is a good idea. I’m not familiar with Reddit, but I know it is very useful.

Thanks for the list of famous RPG sites : I know a lot of these, but I’m not aware of all english spoken fansites, and that’s very interesting.

Time to get back to work, then Wink

     

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