It's that time of year again, the bi-annual DA journal update! XD
I've actually been having a really productive year for 2017, not so much in results but in focus, planning and direction. I managed to land a pretty cool gig for a visual merchandising company here in Australia where I am part of a small team designing and creating all of the large-scale Christmas displays you see in shopping malls, hotels, airports etc around the country. It's been a huge task over the past few months, and the physical demands on creating and installing such large pieces have probably made this the hardest job I've done.
However, the results have been stunning! You can check out some of the smaller tasks on my Instagram
. We're yet to get the professional shots of the Santa Villages and the larger-scale installs done overnights at the malls.
Sadly all good things come to an end and my contract runs out in another week :C I'm a bit sad to part ways with my little team but this will free up a few weeks leading up to Christmas to concentrate back on my own projects!
Which brings me to...
VISUAL NOVEL MAKER + LIVE2D
I purchased the new Visual Novel Maker by Degica yesterday. (With the Live2D plug-in). It appears simple enough on my initial play-around, but there's a lot of functionality here and the more I play with it the more overwhelming and complex it seems. I'd like to learn how to do more customising, mainly the UI, text boxes and sub-menus, and figuring out how to use custom fonts. They're not obvious to edit/replace anywhere so I have a feeling these things may be a little more complicated and require coding. (Guess I couldn't escape it completely.)
There's a lot of nice inbuilt backgrounds, a few free-to-use characters and in my version, a couple of pre-rigged Live2D characters. I have the Live 2D software package now as well so I'll be able to look into rigging/animating my own. (This software doesn't come with the Live 2D program, just a plugin.)
I'm still on the fence whether I drag Ex Astris over from RenPY to this new program. I love RenPY, but coding really bogged me down and I used to get really frustrated with the constant copy and paste. I feel I'll still be doing a lot of that here, especially with the speaking text, but the more visual interface makes me more enticed to work with it as opposed to a notepad document.
It ain't cheap either, I paid around $80AUD ($60US) in total for the software and plugin and there's no demo version to test it out so I really had to leap in. I'm waiting for some more support documentation and more peer video tutorials to be released as well and there's no inbuilt tutorial system. Only time will tell if it'll be worth the money for me I guess.
RPG MAKER FES / MV
Because I haven't had enough on my plate, I've started dabbling into RPG Maker. I bought FES for the 3DS which is a surprisingly solid and in-depth little builder for a handheld package. The only drawbacks is lack of character and tile editing. The characters are selected from a set of palette-swapped pre-illustrated characters and you are unable to edit any tiles and scenery art. That said, you still have the power to build everything using these pre-defined resources, much like the sims I guess? You can build towns, forests, dungeons, and from the terrain on overmaps, all the way down to individual house interiors with furniture etc. Music, sound effects and menus are also built from pre-set resources but you can create and customise character classes, stats, weapons, monsters, money, items, everything else. So setting it all up I think would take weeks/months even without making the resources. XD
Overall it's pretty damn cool! I'm trying to build a story I've had playing around in my head since I was in high school. I'm not sure how far I'll get with it as it takes a LONG time to do this sort of thing. When your games are finished you export them into the RPG Maker 3DS app where anyone can download and play your game for free on 3DS. So I don't think I can export to any desktop or tablet devices, which is a shame as it limits the audience.
This has made me want to buy the full shebang that is RPG Maker MV however! Which is basically the same thing except you can use all your own assets and import sound and music, create cutscenes etc, and release to all mobile/tablet/desktop devices and release for commercial use.
There's just too much cool stuff out there right now for budding game makers. It's quite wonderful really.
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