A rendering of Ragnarok by Emil Doeppler. | Wikipedia Commons

So, I haven’t actually really elaborated much on exactly what Project Dawn is intended to be. Put simply, it’s my attempt at a dark fantasy game, put within a traditional JRPG framework (because that’s what I can currently program). I’ve been inspired lately by the copious amount of mythology and comparative mythology I’ve read, ancient world history I’ve studied, and games like Darkest Dungeon and Dark Souls. As I begin the long process of what I hope to be a fully playable, fully-featured game, here are some of the things I want to implement in it, and what it means for my process as I build this in the robust game engine that is RPG Maker MV:

  • A four-person party with an honest to goodness hero’s journey hero, the thief/love interest, a dog who you give general commands to and then who attacks from a pre-set grouping of skills based on that command (like Vincent’s limit break monsters from Final Fantasy VII, right?) and of course, the sage/wizard who heals and nukes but with spell slots rather than MP unless I really think that’s too much to figure out. This alone requires plug-ins for the way the heroes advance, since I hate how RPG Maker MV does this out of the box. It requires me to come up with “states” (that is, negative statuses like “poison” or “blind”) which I will make only affect the dog, and which can only be used by the dog and may only target the dog, and which confer upon the dog the skills he uses while in that state. This is how far I’m going to simulate the gamble that is bringing a beast you don’t entirely control to the battlefield. Anyway.
  • Lighting! I’m making a world where exploration and danger are big themes, and so I have experimented, quite successfully, with a lighting plug-in. I spent a good half hour messing around with the dynamics of it last night so as to create areas of light that, once you light a torch in a room, look convincingly like it’s filling corners and illuminating walls. It could end up being quite a bit of work, but it already has made a simple test dungeon an entirely different experience than it was without it.
  • Weapon types where it actually matters what weapon you pick! Counterattacking is going to be a treacherous constant in this game, with any enemy possibly slamming you (and your own characters having the ability to respond in kind at a set rate). Some weapons preclude or lower the likelihood of provoking counters. All weapons confer on their wielders certain special moves which the character can burn a resource to use, doing things like thrusting with a sword, slamming with the shaft of a spear, taking slower but more precise aim with your bow. All weapons also confer a not-insubstantial probability of imparting ailments like bleeding or stun on foes, or on the players, who will need to use valuable actions and resources to clear them up. Counterattack plug-ins seem to be working as of last night.
  • Row-based, turn-based combat! Using other plug-ins – copious other plugins – one can design a system in which you can have a front and back row of fighters, and back row fighters can’t be engaged in melee unless the front row is cleared out first, but, also, ranged weaponry and spells can still hit them. This requires the careful manipulation of weapons, skills, enemies, states, &c. But god damn it, when you pick a bow up it should mean more than just damage.

Those are some of the most important mechanics right now, and I’m trying to hold it down. There might be ways to affect how frequently enemies attack you based on how dark it is. Do I want to mess with it? We’ll see if it’s worth the testing headaches.

All this is in service to a game for which I do not yet have any screenshots or even a full roster of characters created. And, it may be months before I have those things. But I’m hoping that these disparate mechanics and ideas can come together to create a game experience that will say a little something about the ideas knocking around in my head.