8/1/2020: Saturday, August 1st, 2020
Ask Us Almost Anything!
Hello everyone! Parzival here with the latest bimonthly blog post of Earthbound Rhapsody. This time, we did something a little different. We decided to let you guys ask us a few questions and had the dev team answer some of them. Before we look at the questions and answers, let's take a look at our current team.
Now, let's get to the questions.
Editor's note: This will be the least formal Blog Post. Enjoy :)
vio asks: "how long has this been in development"
It's hard to say when it really started, as in, putting pen to paper and stuff being made. For the very beginning of the project, the original starmen.net post was made on December 3rd, 2017, and the Discord server was made on the 16th.
MeltyKat asks: "Where did the name for Earthbound Rhapsody come from?"
and Marshall asks: "What is the definition of 'Rhapsody' in relation to the game's title?"
According to the dictionary, a rhapsody has three defining features. It must be irregular, ecstatic, and emotional. When researching titles for the game, this word immediately stuck out to me. I mean, the defining characteristics are eerily similar to one of the slogans of the Earthbound series, "Strange, Funny, and Heartwarming." Plus, the name really seemed to fit. As an added bonus, rhapsody has a second definition, that being an enthusiastic expression of feeling. Which is awfully similar to what a fangame is, hmmm?
DaVinci789 asks: "can you talk about how the combat system is structured?"
In terms of the workload, we've split the combat system into a frontend and a backend. BMJ handles the backend, which concerns all of the math and formulas behind making things work, and I handle the frontend, which contains everything the player sees (i.e. Menus, Textboxes, Animations, and Characters)
In terms of its structure, we take all of the commands the player gives the party, then when the turn begins, we do all of the calculations for the turn, and have all of those events play out. The events of each turn (which is what we're calling the events that occur after the player selects all of the party's actions) are stored in a list, with each entry in that list containing what happens in each part of the turn.
Gortiamas asks: "Do you guys like earthbound or Mother 3 better and why"
Not an option, but MOTHER 1 is my favorite because of the lo-fi feeling. Of the two options you gave, EarthBound because it doesn't try hard to gain your sympathy for the characters. It feels natural, fun, and charming, like a good friend of yours.
I dunno, EarthBound is more iconic and relatable, but I feel Mother 3 is a better overall game. My answer to this changes constantly.
I personally enjoyed Mother 3 more than EarthBound. However EarthBound is great in its own right.
When it comes to things like location and enemies, I prefer EarthBound. it feels much more free and open, as opposed to Mother 3's pretty linear structure. But storywise, Mother 3 is better than EarthBound in that regard.
There are 2 good JRPGs: EarthBound & Xenogears
Um, do we really have to choose just one?
I prefer EarthBound for its locations and story, but I always struggle to get through some the levels and give up often. Looks like I gotta grind more.
Woah, woah, whoah! You're not going to give us the option of EarthBound Beginnings?
Mother 3 has been a whole lot more inspirational for me than EarthBound. I find that everything about it is superior, like its gameplay, presentation, and story. The only thing it might lag behind in is music, but it's a pretty close tie.
Both games have very different stories and characters so it's hard to choose between them on that front, but I think Mother 3 takes the cake on the gameplay. The rhythm combat system is one of my favorite game mechanics of all time!
Okano asks: "Neat textbox. Did you use a surface for the name tag? or are you using draw_sprite_part?"
Both of these are used for the textbox! GameMaker Studio 2's draw_sprite_part_ext function is used to draw the slices of the textbox, and a surface is used when drawing the name of the speaker, so that the name can be cut off at the top or bottom during the transition.
GhostofAStarman (who is a developer) asks: "How close are we to finishing?"
Negative six-and-a-half years
MagFrag asks: "What was the most radical idea that you all have considered?"
An entire second campaign that would eventually tie in with the main one, staring Darius (who was at the time Brock's Dad). It would depict his rise to godlike power and descent into insanity.
Shifter asks: "how is the dev team feeling so far about the development of the game?"
I wish we were moving a bit more consistently and quickly, but the game this is shaping up to be is one I'm very proud to be a part of.
It's a little sluggish right now, but at the very least there are progress in the programming fields. The programmers are freaking awesome people.
Shifter asks: "How long exactly does this game's story take place after Mother 3?"
Short answer: It doesn't.
Long answer: For all intents and purposes, the game is a pseudo-prequel to the main series, taking place in an idealized version of 1960s America, roughly thirty years before the events of EarthBound Beginnings. The game is very loosely connected to the main series story wise. We felt that the EarthBound series has so much potential that it would be a waste to retread old ground, although there are one or two recurring characters here and there. However, the game heavily explores multiple concepts presented in the series, with a focus on the nature of PSI.
MagFrag asks: "Since the game seems to take place in the 60s, is there an equivalent to the Vietnam war?"
While the world of Earthbound Rhapsody certainly draws inspiration from the world of the 1960s, that is where the line is drawn. Real world events are not directly referenced. While the events of the Vietnam War certainly influenced much of the culture of the 60s, we have decided to simply leave interpretation up to the player.
MagFrag asks: "Were the 4 protagonists always going to be roughly like they are today, or were there radical changes?"
Originally, we had intended to have two separate but interconnected stories playing out many years apart, sort of like the book Holes if you will. This is why Jonesy was initially conceived as an archaeologist. Eventually we decided that that system would not work and we scrapped the other party, leaving only one behind. Of the characters in the remaining party, they underwent a few changes throughout development. Brock was originally named Brandon, and he was the middle child in his family, overshadowed by his brother and baby sister. His older brother was also in the party. Monica was a little different, she was originally intended to be a movie star, but was since changed to the daughter of a successful businessman. Jonesy has more or less remained constant while Miles was not in the original draft.
MagFrag asks: "Will there be another Design-A-Foe contest?"
I'm not the deciding factor on any of this, but it'd be neat to see more community-driven things like it. It ties back into our roots as a community fangame pretty well.
Gortiamas asks: "Are there any scrapped ideas that you guys might be interested in sharing?"
I'll give a quick rundown of the original plot. Darius was an ancient warrior with uncontrollable psychic power. It took intense concentration to maintain control over his incredible strength. Eventually, when he was older, his village was attacked by a rival tribe and his family was killed. Enraged, he lost the delicate control over his mind he had worked so hard to get. As his mind began to collapse in on itself, the sheer amount of psychic power present began to endanger to the dimension. Giygas's race appeared just before Darius's breaking point and managed to subdue him for a short time. However, they knew that they would not be able to hold them forever. Unknown to Darius, his baby son had survived the assault. The aliens captured his son and placed him in stasis until a time when he would be needed to face his father, as his psychic power would rival Darius's someday. That boy was Brock. Trust me, I like the new plot a lot more.
Gortiamas asks: "How many people are currently on the team? Are any of you working on other projects?"
We have 19 talented fellas working on this game, I'm sure many of them are working on things I'm unaware of, but Mookal, one of the programmers, is making an awesome game called Big Brain Bimmy!, Maxim is making Mother Russia, (among other things. He's no stranger to fangames) and smalls is always doing something with his amazing pixel art skills. I make some webcomics and occasional music.
I've been working on some music passion projects lately, but nothing huge, with my most recent being a crime against God and nature called "Bagel Cat".
vio asks: "How did everyone join the team?"
I think I came from starmen.net. It was a good way to get into a fangame with basically zero experience. I still don't know how we managed to get a coherent team of people together.
For me specifically, I was working on a different (now cancelled) game with one of Rhapsody's musicians, GhostofAStarman, and he showed me Rhapsody way early in the project's life. I got roped into it because Parzival and the game had an atmosphere that made it very easy and welcoming to help with development. I was a sprite artist on the cancelled game, but this was a chance for me to do some other things, as I have (albeit varying levels) of experience with almost every part of game development.
Starmen.net 'Work' for Hire
I expressed an interest in potentially adding dialogue to Rhapsody, and when I voiced this to Parzival through Starmen.net's Forum's private messaging, he invited me to join the Discord server for this project. I was apprehensive at first, since I had no prior Discord experience, but I said yes all the same. It's got a great story, especially, and it's got an ideal blend of humor, drama, and the like. I do hope (and believe) that I contributed something worthwhile.
I was looking for more games like EarthBound and I stumbled upon Earthbound Rhapsody's Twitter, sent them a DM saying I was interested in helping create the game's music, now here I am.
Saw the post on starmen, and well... See for yourself. I really dazzled Parzival in those early days, so I was a logical choice for co-writer.
I joined after seeing a post in the Mother 4 subreddit. I originally wanted to be a musician, but my programming skills far outclass my composition skills.
I met one of the former devs, Dorkus64, in Carlos Eiene's server a few years back and he encouraged me to take a look at a Mother fangame he had been working on. I talked to the team and learned about the project for a bit before I was kindly brought on as a writer and composer!
vio asks: "How is writing handled here? is there a specific writer or does everyone contribute?"
We host (rather, hosted, we've been on a break for a while) meetings for writers, and Parzival is the one who is writing the final script for consistency in tone. When the time comes, we'll probably comb over his script to revise it.
We have a dedicated wrting corps consisting of me, Negan, vgtrombone, Joey and Parzival. We divide our hours between disscussion of plot points and tending to the script. The work flow in the past 5 months has become quite stop and start, but that's something we're hoping to get back into.
Everyone who helps with writing contributes to the plot, and it's all compiled by Parzival once we're finished discussion. Writing is a work in progress and many ideas are scrapped along the way
In the past, pretty much everyone on the team had their hands in the script, even me at one point. Now it's the responsibility of a dedicated group of writers.
Marshall asks: "Will the game be structured into chapters with many points of no return or will the game be more like Earthbound and have a gradually changing world that you can revisit at any point?"
The original 2017 draft was going to have the Mother 3 chapter structure, but in mid 2019 Parzival eventually changed his mind and went for a Mother 1+2 layout
Marshall asks: "How weird are this game's settings (locations) going to get?"
The EarthBound series is well known for its bizarre locations, and this game is no different. I can't reveal much, but Brock and company will visit places such as toy factories, insane asylums, and even zombie nightclubs along their journey!
MagFrag: "Are the devs not overworked?"
Definitely not. Our way of development is a "do what you can, when you can" sort of vibe. We (or at least I) actually have a problem of keeping at the work that needs doing, heheh.
If anything, we're underworked! For a lot of us, Rhapsody is a cool side project that we work on whenever we've got free time. Of course, that doesn't mean we aren't devoted to delivering an awesome experience.
Well, that's all for this post! We hope you enjoyed this little insight into the development of Earthbound Rhapsody.
Footnote: We're reaching a point where it is becoming dangerously difficult to make blog posts without spoiling too much of the game. With this in mind, we are going to modify the blog posts to be quarterly, or essentially once every three months. The next one will be in October. With that in mind, we will see you then!