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teacher, 2D animator, amateur gamedev

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Got bad RSI today from working too much on Future Ghost, and had to take a day off.

Besides that mundanity however, here's what's been happening...

  1. Got set up on Steam: Store.steampowered.com

  2. Announced a tentative launch date on Steam of 15th June 2018.
  3. Posted a demo on Steam: Store.steampowered.com
  4. Sent out Kickstarter rewards, including Future Ghost t-shirts, to backers.
  5. Made little progress on the game itself due to the above-listed.
  6. Built new game environments, including a suburban street and the protagonist's apartment, where the player can listen to some of his old records.


Interesting story about Song's old records. Song, the game's protagonist, is in his early 60s. He left China in the late 1960s, emigrating to the West. Looking for music from that era that might have left an impression on him, limiting myself to works available under a Creative Commons license, I discovered a genuine psychedelic rock group from 1967-70 whose body of work had largely gone unreleased until 2009. The band was known as Pisces.

As you can see in the above video, two of their songs will feature in the game. Talking to them about it, they were very enthusiastic about the idea. "Awesome - Approved!" came the response via direct message on Twitter.

It's been my experience that most of the musicians I've approached about using their Creative Commons music, posted on sites like FreeMusicArchive.com and SoundCloud, have been overwhelmingly positive, and in some cases downright excited at the prospect. Some of them will appear as NPCs.

So the Kickstarter goal set for Future Ghost was exceeded by AU$200, and the process of getting the game on Steam is now underway.

Time to celebrate with a new and much-improved version of the demo, which you can download for desktop systems right here at IndieDB, or from the Future Ghost website for Android as well as desktops.

celebration poster

Discovered, through as thorough a play-through as I could manage on a Samsung S4, that the standard package for Android you get by following the official steps for RPG Maker MV just isn't really good enough. Also was not able to get it running at all on my LG K10.

Time to test out some alternate HTML5 wrappers, and failing that, try making a pared-down version of the game for Android. Really don't want to do that, though...

Here's the Kickstarter link, and here's the Kickstarter video...

Please support if you can and are interested. Thanks.

This blog entry will not be about Chengdu, in Sichuan Province, China, which is where the protagonist of my game ‘Future Ghost’, Song Weiliang, is from. Instead, I want to write about his origin as a character within the real-world context that shaped him over time.

Song started out as a standard American-style superhero named the Doppelganger. When I was in primary school, I was an avid reader of these black-and-white omnibus reprints of DC comics we used to get in Australia back in the late 70s and early 80s. As a child, I played around with some childish ideas for my own superheroes to begin with, but the Doppelganger was my first “mature” effort. His super power was, as the name suggests, to copy the appearance of any person. He could also shoot energy beams from his hands, which were in some way related to the shapeshifting power.

Song sketch sml


A friend of mine also came up with his own hero, and we worked on stories for them under the team name of ‘Vendetta’. The Doppelganger, whose civilian name was ‘Alex’, was actually based on that friend of mine in some ways, not least of all his Asian background and appearance; his current incarnation as Song Weiliang even moreso.

That early collaborator is in fact my oldest close friend. We first met when we were 6 years old, and while adult life has seen us drift somewhat, we are still as close as ever whenever we manage to get together. He came with his family to suburban Melbourne, Australia, as a refugee following the Vietnam War, moving into my First Grade class and into a house just down the street from mine. This is the origin of Song’s backstory as a Chinese refugee following the Cultural Revolution, ending him up in the suburbs of Melbourne, just like my friend.

It was in the house of that friend where I was first introduced to Hong Kong’s kungfu cinema. Often, he and his dad would be watching a Jackie Chan movie or something more obscure when I dropped in, generally in the original Cantonese with only Chinese subtitles. It was a new world, one I’d only previously glimpsed in the Japanese TV series ‘Monkey’ with its hilarious English overdubbing and kungfu-style antics.

When we were in high school, the two of us signed up for karate as an after-school sport. It wasn't kungfu of course, but it was as close as we were going to get. My friend kept it up with the same sensei even in his university days, and took up rock climbing, while I worked on a horror-themed web comic and chased girls. He ended up single but strong as an ox, while I stayed skinny but had found the girl I’d end up marrying by the end of my first year out of university.

So that physical strength and dedication to a martial art also appear in Song.

At his wedding a few years back, the best man, a mutual friend to both of us, said in his speech that the groom was “Superman”, the embodiment of our friend’s long-time favourite superhero and the qualities of steadfastness, reliability, loyalty and so on for which he stands. Through the writing and development process for Song Weiliang in his current iteration, I’ve come to realise all over again that I too see my oldest friend that way. As a superhero.

Future Ghost title

Future Ghost title

Full demo's out, and already at version 1.02 due to some bug fixes and tweaks that needed doing.

Download it now!


90Mb, Windows & HTML5. Unzip, then browse to the "www" folder and open the "index.html" file in an HTML5-compatible browser to play on systems other than Windows. Just run the "Game.exe" in Windows.

Hadouken a bad guy in the crotch!

Future Ghost title

New game features since last blog post:

  • Full clickability = point & click adventure-style gaming throughout
  • Improved controller compatibility
  • A bunch of NPCs modeled after friends & supporters
  • Fight system "tutorial" (if the player loses 40% health or more in the first fight)
  • Re-balanced fights
  • Additional instructions for the "level-up" screen
  • An airport

Future Ghost - airport screenshot

The demo has also been updated, but it doesn't contain all of the above-listed, just most of it. Here is the new link... demo link!

Demo still has about 20 minutes' worth of playtime, and is provided as a Windows executable along with an HTML5 version that should run on any compatible browser, regardless of OS. Find the "www" folder once the demo zip file's unzipped, and launch the "index.html" file to play on anything other than Windows.

Besides that, I am now considering a Kickstarter campaign, as a means of promotion and to raise funds to cover costs such as the Steam application fee, trademark registration, and so on. More will be posted about this as things develop!

In the meantime, if you have 85Mb of bandwidth and 20 minutes to spare, please check out the demo and let me know what you think of it!

Future Ghost title

Big demo announcement!

Here's the link! (85Mb, Win & HTML5, 15-20m play time)

This demo concludes the prologue to the game's story and incorporates 2 as-yet-unseen RPG-style fights.

New features include:

  • Subtle hint system through additional dialogue
  • Timeline system to help keep the storyline straight as you progress
  • In-game manual
  • Animated fight scenes
  • 3 standard moves & 4 special moves to start
  • Manual stat upgrades at level-up
  • More accurate reloading from savegames
  • Balanced RPG-style battles

Features that were already there:

  • Rich story
  • Character depth
  • Old-school adventure game-style visuals & exploration

If that sounds good to you, please give it a try and leave some feedback! Thanks in advance.

Song fighting pose

Future Ghost title

Here we go; a graphically-rich devblog, because now in-engine development is in full swing, so I've got lots of stuff to show you!

Environments

(right-click & view image for full resolution)

Scottish Highlands - external

Scottish Highlands - internal

Mt Qingcheng - stairs


Characters

Weiliang (William) Song - c2007 Weiliang Song - c1967Creed

Lily Zhang


And there is now a decent-sized playable "pre-demo" available. There are no battles yet, but the first chunk of storyline is there, along with all the environments and characters featured in this blog entry. Here's the link. (60Mb approx.; Windows)

Future Ghost title

  • 7th October: Script completed
  • 8th October: Friend from the UK consulted on the Scottish English dialogue
  • 9th October: Link to the script on Google Docs posted on personal FB page for general feedback
  • 11th October: Student consulted on Mandarin Chinese dialogue
  • 18th-19th October: Feedback received from first person to read the whole script other than me

Total final page count: 152
Total final word count:
33,456


This is not my first rodeo. I once made a very ambitious, and ultimately flawed, action/adventure game in Flash. Many of its flaws were the result of having no consultative process whatsoever. I didn't really talk to anyone about what I was making until it was "finished". There was a degree of impatience behind that, as well as pride maybe.

However, this time, I am determined to learn from the mistakes of that project. 'Future Ghost' is something I've nurtured for the past 20 years, a story I've planned and even written in various forms over that time, so I want to do it justice. That's why I've sought feedback even at the planning and script writing stages, and will continue to do so when I've got some in-game art to share and some playable game segments. Hopefully some of that feedback will come from you folks here on indiedb.

The next devblog will be graphically rich, so please check back and let me know what you think!


In the meantime, here are some of the (spoiler-free) comments I received from the above-mentioned "first person to read the whole script other than me"...

Well done on a great storyline, quite a page-turner in the end

Everything comes together very nicely in the end and there are plenty of twists to keep things fresh and engaging

Plot is most intriguing - ties in elements of different film and game genres, but is quite original

Poses interesting questions about perspective. Also that the line between good and evil is not always so clear

All the characters have interesting qualities
No 'cookie cutter' types


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