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Old 06-21-2016, 12:26 PM   #1
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Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Okay! This is the moment you've been waiting for! It's time to announce the judged entries for the Anything Goes Contest 2015.

Over the last few weeks I've been playing and writing about all six contest entries, and most of them had unique features to being to the table. I personally found it delightful to play full, fully formed games, and it took a lot longer than I expected to finish writing these reviews simply because most of the game had SO much content to them. I found it difficult to adopt a scoring system, simply because that's not my usual judging style, but it worked out quite well in the end. The bulk of the writing is my thoughts as I play through the game, with tiny notes about the score below.

So, let's go over who entered the contest and the judging criteria, then we'll get to the actual reviews.

The list, in the order I played them in:

1. Psychosis, from Dragaron
2. Weird AAdventure, from Duel
3. 12 Minutes to Save the World, from Ryner
4. ADAM: Rise of the Papas Demo, from Jamos
5. LICH LAIR, from Jack King
6. Variant, from Sunstorm93

The grading for the contest entries is as follows:

Here we go!:

This is the meat and potatoes of the review, where I discuss the game as I go through it. Fun times await here!

Presentation: #/5

Here we grade not only the graphical appeal of the game, but also how it presents itself. Does a somber game have moody graphics to match it? Does it have visual appeal, was work put into making the game feel special? This category will tell all.

Gameplay: #/10

The most important part of any game. It doesn't matter how many sprites or polygons you can cram onscreen if it's no fun to play! Does the game play well, were the levels thought out and concessions made to make things easier on players? Is it too easy or hard? Because this is the most important part of the game, I feel it should be worth more than the other categories.

Sound/Music: #/5

Music and sound gets it's own category? You bet! Sound and music can go a long way to making a game feel unique, and adding emphasis to the game.

Lasting Appeal: #/5

While the other categories are strict and tight, here's where I let loose and give more of a general look at the overall package. Is the game easy to pick up and play? How long is the game, is the game a complete package, or is it missing something? Are there any bugs I ran into? Most importantly, did I want to continue playing it? All will be documented here.

Final Score: #/25

The last paragraph will be an overview of everything I've talked about previous, just like a good English 101 paper. If I have any final thoughts, here's where they go.

Okay? So let's get to the good part and start reviewing some contest games. Which one will come out on top?

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Old 06-21-2016, 12:26 PM   #2
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Title: Psychosis
Creator: Dragaron
Platform: RPG Maker 2

Here we go!:

The amount of games I've actually played with RPG Maker 2 can be counted on one hand. I've also tried to make some games with this particular maker, but never got past making one bare testing room before I threw my hands up and played something else. And yet despite RPG Maker 2's many problems, there are a few dedicated folks who keep the system alive long after most have given up on it. Enter Dragaron, one of the premier RPG Maker 2 specialists keeping the maker relevant with new releases.

The game has you starting in a bare room with a campfire. Upon pressing square while facing it, you can open the submenu to open a plethora of options. What opens up is an incredible submenu of various options, and there's a lot at your fingertips to control. It can be somewhat intimidating, but you'll soon learn how to use it. It opens with square, you make selections with X and cancel with circle, and triangle gives more information about each selection, a really nice touch. Oddly enough, just about everything in the game is handled by this submenu. Every game has a list of achievements that invite you to explore every game in-depth, and is useful when you collect a lot of them. There are nine mini-games, and I'll be covering them all.

The first game is Chop Suey, where you rapidly press L1, L2, R1, or R2 to build a focus meter enough to break a piece of wood or material. You have 20 different pieces of material to chop through. It works well, and the presentation factor here is good, with a custom menu showing how much energy you have, which button you pressed, and how much you need to focus before you can successful chop with X. I have a few issues with the game however, like how to switch to the next material. You must choose it through the submenu, making the game more long and tedious than necessary. I also got the feeling that the game started out too easy, it's only until material 13/20 that it starts getting a little challenging, but even then I was able to beat the game using just L1 and R1. One thing I think is funny about the game is how the game keeps track of a lot of useless data. You can see in the Stats menu how many times you've hit any particular button during the mini-game, how much focus you've accumulated, how many times you talk to your sensei, and your failed break attempts (For fun, my stats were L1=363 and R1=389). The game tracks a lot of little data like this for all games, and it's a nice touch.

The next game up is Switch Hunters, where you and a teammate must press all of the switches in a room to clear the room and move to the next one. It also takes inspiration from Mystical Ninja, a favorites game series of mine, so kudos right off the bat. This game was particularly tricky for me to figure out, because it's rather unintuitive. You must hit switches scattered across a room, and to hit one right in front of you, you have to get your partner in front of the switch (not yourself), have them pick you up with triangle, press down to switch to your partner on ground level, press L1 or R1 to rotate them to face the switch, and finally X to hit the switch. Why does hitting one switch right in front of me take so many steps? The game really feels like an absolute bore as a result. Not helping matters is that you're hitting switches around a series of very bare levels, similarly looking rooms. I said "No thanks!", and played something else.

Next up is Xerox, a carbon copy of Simon Says, which makes it's name very appropriate. You start the game with triangle and match the lit portions of the screen with the control pad. There's not much to say really. It's neat that this mini-game offers things like difficulty options and other bells and whistles to spice it up, but it's just Simon Says. I didn't spend much time with it.

Now we play Medicore Man, an arena game. As Medicore Man you can wander around the battlefield, but you can't actually attack your opponent right away. First you must dodge your enemy's attack to gain the energy to attack. It's a unique concept, it's forces you to move around and carefully consider your offense and defense. You have to constantly be on the move, and I found myself enjoying this game quite a bit. It can get a bit easier as the enemies get faster, because they spam more attacks that you can avoid and stockpile. Their health never increases, and it's easy to move away and then blast them when you're fully stocked. These are more minor nitpicks than anything, however, as this is the most enjoyable game of the bunch so far.

Next up is Senseless Maze, which is easily the oddest game of the bunch. You press triangle to make a maze, then the game takes a moment to load up a maze for you based on the settings in the submenu. Instead of leading a character through the maze, you control a green box that shakes when you move, and doesn't when you hit a wall, with your objective being to find the goal. Also, the screen is black, so you're essentially navigating through a maze in the dark. You have a few tools at your disposal to get through however. Along with your visual cue of the shaking box to indicate you are moving, there's a compass at the top of the screen pointing you in the general direction of the goal, and the center of the compass turns more red the closer you get to it. In addition, you can also remove the compass and use auditory feedback to locate the goal, which is a sound effect that plays the closer you get to the goal, or you can use the controller's rumble to indicate you're close to the goal. And if you're having a hard time with the game, you can turn the goal on and see it, and you also can smash some walls to make it easier to get to the goal. It's a unique concept and it's executed well. Unfortunately I just don't find the concept of navigating a maze partially blind to be very entertaining. It does have a wealth of options if you do like it however, and the achievements challenge you to tinker with the settings to make it more challenging.

The next game is Whitejack, which is Blackjack in all but name. The most disappointing thing here is that the game is all text and menus, without anything shown on screen. Just like with Xerox, I didn't spend much time with this one. It's a technical marvel that you can play blackjack on RPG Maker 2, but I'd rather just play the game is real life. I'm also not fond of the interface, which is crowded and confusing at first. I also don't see why the game tells you the suit of the card, when that information doesn't matter in a game like this.

Residental Evil is the next title, which seems to be the most fully realized game of the bunch. Like it's main inspiration it involves some puzzling in the form of numerical locks, and a unique battle system. You shortly meet up with a not-Mario (it is Mario) to collect not-Mario toys (they are Mario toys) in a mansion, but they are protected by ghosts. The game has a real time battle system where enemies attack you and light up an exclamation point in your status bar. Pressing it when it's red (during the enemies attack) will parry the attack and make the exclamation point turn white, indicting you were successful, and eventually with enough parries it turns yellow, indicating you can attack and combo your opponent. It's a great system that requires quick thinking and strategy, since you can quickly wear out your stamina meter by just blindly attacking. What I don't like about the game is the door unlocking. You must read the books located nearby and pick out which of the numbers will unlock the door, but there's no rhyme or reason behind any of the numbers. Dates on Lincoln's assassination, the first issue of Nintendo Power, the title of several books, none of it is connected and you have no way to know which code opens which door. Even worse is that you have to open the doors in a specific order, so if you get stuck, you can't continue, even if you know the next door's password.

Lights Off! You know those puzzle games where you have to turn off colored squares and it reverses the on/off of adjacent squares? That's this game. You have twenty different puzzles to solve. It's very simple, and I like the simple interface, which has a soft pink/purple coloration.

Curious Conundrums is the final mini-game, based on Professor Layton. It's a series of 20 puzzles to solve, and you get to type out your answer. Answering a riddle correctly gives you tokens, and you can use those tokens to open hints to solve trickier riddles. If you answer incorrectly, you lose a token. I'm upset that you don't start the game with any tokens, you have to rough it out at first before you can get any. I'm also disappointed every puzzle is worth 5 tokens, even though some are trickier than others. That said there are a couple of riddles in here I really enjoyed. A lot of them involve numbers and math, but the wordplay ones were my favorites, like aliens talking about a strange human object or picking a number between 1-100 with only one guess.

Once you've collected achievements, you can go back to the campsite, which is kind of the main area of the game. With the achievements you've collected you can unlock doors and light new campfires, which unlock parts of a journal which tell a story. So there's a good incentive to play through all the games and do everything available.

That's one huge amount of text for one game. Let's get to grading it!

Presentation: 3/5

The graphics are very bare bones. Lots of dull colors with square rooms and no decorations for the most part. It looks and feels very much like a tech demo. The reason I don't score it lower is because of the submenu, which is wonderfully laid out and is a big part of the game. It may be confusing at first, but being able to customize it's look is a big plus for me.

Gameplay: 7/10

Like any collection of mini games, you have your good (Medicore Man, Residental Evil) your okay (Chop Suey, Curious Conundrums) and your bad (Switch Hunters, Xerox). Having nine fully fleshed out games in one package is an amazing feat, but I can't shake how most of them aren't very enjoyable. There's no way I'm going to play more than one game of Xerox.

I also can't shake the feeling that the game feels like a tech demo. It shows off a lot of really cool stuff that RPG Maker 2 can do, at the expense of actually making most of them fun. I would have rather seen some of the games more fully fleshed out and throw the rest out. I really desire a full version of Residental Evil.

To the game's credit, the game does reward you for jumping through it's hoops, awarding achievements for completing certain tasks, so if you really dig one of these games, you've got some challenge and replay value. I just wish the wow factor was toned down for more depth of gameplay.

Sound/Music: 4/5

Let's get this out of the way right now: I would have preferred there to be music already selected for each game. There, I said it. However, having a selection of 25 music tracks to choose from is nice. I wish more music tracks could be selected than the 25 on offer, and I would've chosen different tracks than what's available, but being able to choose them along with sound effects and their tempos is a nice touch.

Lasting Appeal: 5/5

I feel as though I can't give this anything less than a full score. You've got nine full titles to play through, ten achievements for each one, and multiple settings for each one, all done through a stylish submenu. This game is packed with content, and at the end of 5 hours I still had more game to get through. It took me several days to play through the game and during my time away from home I was thinking about the game and what mini games were still left waiting for me. On top of that, I didn't find a single bug or spelling error. Yep, perfect score here.

Final Score: 19/25

The game will last you a long time, has a brilliant submenu and is packed with content. But is it full of content you want to sit through? I can't shake the feeling this is showing off what the system is doing, rather than looking for player enjoyment. I had quite a bit of fun playing through this game however. I would just recommend playing through your favorites and skipping the rest however.

For reference, I got 31/100 achievements and lit 4 out of 11 campfires. I'm curious to see what your results are!

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Old 06-21-2016, 12:27 PM   #3
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Title: Weird AAdventure
Creator: Duel
Platform: RPG Maker VX Ace

Here we go!:

Time to review Duel's game. I've played several games of his in the past. I absolutely love his quirky sense of humor, but his games always seem to be missing something in the gameplay aspect, whether that be intentional or not. Hopefully this new one holds up.

You start the game in a room that looks remarkably like Ash's room from Pokemon. As you walk out of the house, it is very much like a Pokemon game, with the professor's house, rival's home and gyms scattered about on an island. The game also has it's own simple art style that also looks like Pokemon.

And right now I bet you'd be thinking this is a parody or love letter to the genre and will play out like such, but I haven't mentioned the weird things about this game. Like the fact you can walk over everything. You can walk on walls if there's decorations on them, you walk right through tables and TVs, and most objects. What the hell is going on here?

There are a few people scattered here and there, but it's mostly empty. Most people don't even talk to you. I pressed every button on my keyboard, but the professor won't talk to me. There's a ninja looking dude you can fight in the Rookie Club, but he one hit kills you. What....is going on here? I just don't get it.

There are several levels you can go to, and several you cannot. The second gym can be accessed, but not the first, and the second has a person you can't talk to. There are a lot of people that don't talk to you. The whole island is like this. So you can wander around and enter some buildings, and talk to some people. That's about it.

I re-downloaded the game, just to check if I screwed up the download somehow. Nope, ran just like before. So, this isn't a problem on my end, at least.

Well....that's it I guess.

Presentation: 2/5

Looks good. Sure wish I could do something though. Also, I can walk over everything.

Gameplay: 1/10

You spend your time not talking to people. And getting into battles you can't win. That's not very fun, so this scores lower than usual.

Sound/Music: 1/5

There's only one piece of peppy music, and it gets very old, very fast.

Lasting Appeal: 0/5

This game has no appeal. There's nothing here. It doesn't have anything redeeming about itself, like Smitpok does. I actively wanted to turn the game off as I played it.

Final Score: 4/25

I can't help but wonder if Duel had this great game planned, then said **** it, I don't have enough time for this and turned it in as-is. I tried that in math once. I started doing work for this crazy big assignment at the last minute, and I only got maybe 1/8 through the 50 point assignment before I said **** it, I need sleep. I turned it in as is and got no points for it. I did about an hour's work and got no points for it. That means Duel got more points than I did on my math assignment. I'm so jealous right now.
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:28 PM   #4
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Title: 12 Minutes to Save the World
Creator: Ryner
Platform: RPG Maker VX Ace

Here we go!:

It's time to play my first Ryner review. Here's a fellow who has been in the community for a long time, and regularly submits games for various contests, and has won a lot of them too. But for all the hype his games get, it's been strictly PC makers, which always left me out in the cold if I wanted to get a glimpse of his games. Now that I have a rig set up to play (for the second time, hopefully this one will stick), let's get to it!

As the game starts, you play as the default hero, and talking to the old man reveals that a great evil will engulf the land....within 12 minutes. Bam, the timer starts, and off you go to save the world. The first thing I noticed is the shift key won't let you run. Yep, you're stuck walking through this adventure. I understand why, you have to balance the game somehow, but I would've liked the ability to go faster than a glacial walk.

The timer is ever present, and keeps going during all battles and conversations (though thankfully the menu pauses the countdown). It's not the sort of game you play once and get done with, and you won't get even close to beating it your first time through. My first time I mostly wandered around and wasted a lot of time. But you pick up useful bits of information for your next playthrough. An early example is that you are told in the port town a princess is locked up by a vampire in the north. But in my second playthrough I skipped the port town completely and just went straight to the castle, saving me precious minutes. It's that accumulation of knowledge that will help you get farther and farther in the game.

It can be discouraging at first, because you will lose your first few times, and that sucks. But you'll start to pick up the clever little tricks of the game. Some enemies drop precious cash, some drop weapons, and going off the beaten path may net you a treasure chest. This is all standard fare for RPGs, but the game's time limit and the fact you don't start with much means you'll scrape by with everything you can get.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's a lot of trial and error. I like the fact that because of this the game encourages you to explore and play. There are a lot of opportunities you can take advantage of, from enemies that drop nice loot, to optional NPC party members, to out of the way equipment. The one thing I don't like about this setup is that the condition for winning isn't spelled out for you. This does encourage you to explore more, but other than fighting against a darkness I know nothing else about who I'm fighting against, where they are or what I need to succeed. You have to have the determination to find out yourself, or die trying.

Presentation: 4/5

It's a simple game with a simple look. This works in the game's favor since you usually know exactly where to go in any given level instead of playing a guessing game of how to navigate the landscape.

Gameplay: 9/10

There's a lot of wandering around and a lot of battles, and both are very well done. The battle balance is great, and encourages leveling up to defeat enemies faster. The level design is pretty basic and is easy to navigate. I have a few issues with how you usually don't know how to win the game and that talking to people doesn't freeze the timer. It's a game about racing against the clock, and it does that very well with a lot of incentives and ways to speed through for crafty, diligent players.

Sound/Music: 4/5

The game has basic sound effects and one music track throughout the game. I like how the music fades out during the last 20 seconds and a loud ticking starts up. Really puts you under the pressure.

Lasting Appeal: 5/5

This is a game that grows on you. The more you put into it, the more you'll get out of it. You'll start experimenting with new routes, trying new stuff and perfecting your route to beat the game while the clock ticks. It's a game that I think about when I'm not playing it, which is a very good sign.

I did, however, find a few bugs that stopped my progress dead cold. A zombie monster in the rightmost part of the castle will battle you indefinitely. Entering the old hermit's house from above will prevent you from being able to re-enter your ship, leaving you stuck. That's a damn shame because it does what it sets out to do, and does it well. In the end I'm not marking the game down for this just because I had so much fun with it. Besides, due to the nature of the game's design, game-breaking stuff isn't that bad.

Final Score: 22/25

Ryner has a tendency to win contests. Now I see why.
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:29 PM   #5
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Title: Adam: Rise of the Papa (Demo)
Creator: Jamos
Platform: RPG Maker VX Ace

Here we go!:

I'm equal parts amazed and overjoyed playing a game from Jamos. Usually he's the guy sulking in the corner, but now he's made it to the big leagues and has released a demo of a game for the contest. Anyone who's releasing something for the contest should be applauded, but I'm glad to see Jamos put himself out there. And with that, let's see what he has to offer.

The game, immediately upon booting up, asks you if you'd like to play the 18+ version of the game, and gives you two Yes options. I think that's hilarious. The game starts as you awake from a metallic science room and you, playing as Adam, leave the room with a girl named Beth, to discover you haven't been in the building for just a day, but possibly a lot longer. So the story doesn't give you a lot to go on at first.

The game starts as you gather supplies to get ready to camp for the night. It's here I can talk about the real time gameplay. You can slash your sword with F and open the menu with N. At first you collect wood to build a fire and the game has a nice enclosed space for you to get used to the basics. Strangely, pressing F to swing your sword doesn't cut down the trees, you must hit the space bar to do that. Weird. You then talk to Beth to craft the items you need, and fight off some insects before going to bed.

After that, the perspective is switched to someone who looks like Adam but with a scar, and you're in a city fighting multiple people who look like Adam. Just what the heck is going on here? My first time through I got quickly overwhelmed and died. Turns out some of the enemies drop Water, which can heal you, but you'll only learn that by messing around. I feel the game throws you into the thick of it a little too quickly.

Turns out it was a dream sequence, and now we're introduced to someone named Nina. The game gives me the impression that Adam is a test subject, but the game is never clear on this point. The game is very unclear on a lot of stuff actually, all I can say for sure is that Adam's been asleep for a long time. And when he asks Nina for more information, he's refused, like why he should follow along with her, how long he's been knocked out and who he is. Nothing is explained in concrete details, and it causes me to kinda zone out as a result.

After that cutscene, you can go out of your tent and fight more baddies and go past a previously blocked route. You encounter some sheep, who are apparently p!ssed to see you because they wiped me out pretty quickly. And I, being new to the PC makers, didn't realize I could save from the menu. Ugh. Remember to save often in this game.

You can, with some difficulty, fight your way through the forest. The biggest problem you'll face is how you have very few healing items, and no healing spells. I had to run the rest of the way out of the forest. What awaited me when I got out of the forest? More cryptic story stuff. Ugh. Another thng that bothers me is how much crafting things you get, that you can't use for anything.

Okay, that's about all I can take. As you may or may not know, I play games until I have a pretty good idea of how the game is, then I review. Well, review time it is!

Presentation: 3/5

There's some decent level design and a lot of flashy effects. I like how you can see the different weapon you swing. On the other hand the levels are very boxy, square, and boring.

Gameplay: 3/10

It's nice to play an action RPG, but it's fairly difficult to get very far because the game isn't balanced very well. It's simply too hard, with enemies dropping little to no EXP. You collect a lot of useless junk, but few potions and no consistent healing methods, which make getting through the game a chore, rather than actually being fun.

Sound/Music: 3/5

The game has a couple different sounds and some decent music to go with it. The music gets really annoying very quickly however.

Lasting Appeal: 1/5

The game tries to present a story, but it's utter garbage. The people you interact with are jerks and completely unlikeable, and the story is so confusing and doesn't make any attempt to explain anything. Then it has the gall to ask you to continue playing it. Nuh uh, no way. The game doesn't give you any reason to want to play it, I really wanted to turn the game off.

Final Score: 7/25

Here we have a very cut and dry game, without any tasty juices to make it more appetizing. It fails to sell itself on anything, like the game didn't have a clear goal in mind. The bad news Jamos is that this game sucks. The good news is that there's a lot to improve upon should you decide to stick with the project, because everyone's first game sucks. The ball's in your court.

Last edited by 1ce; 06-21-2016 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:30 PM   #6
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Title: Lich Lair
Creator: Jack King/LichLair
Platform: RPG Maker 1

Here we go!:

Here's the most interesting game of the contest games for me, if only because I've already played and reviewed this game already. For a general overview of the game and what I thought of it then, here's my review. Let's see what a second playthrough will reveal.

You play as Pister Bane, who is sent by The Order to the little town Wilten to discover the source of undead attacks. You quickly learn that a lich is at play behind the deaths of two guards in the town, and as the legendary beast hunter you're tasked with exterminating this threat. The style is grim, and the entire town is talking about the horrible events, which really adds to the atmosphere of the game, and does a great job giving the events a weight and feeling to them.

The game isn't big, but there's so many options for you to explore. Your equipment and money are limited, but by exploring and collecting you can get a good amount of money and items just by talking and looking through every nook and cranny. You'll need to be wise about what you do however, as doing immoral things like stealing could land you in jail, and killing could mean a swift death at the hands of the town guards. I'm having much more fun with the game since I already know how it works and what to expect, but first time players will undoubtedly get lost or stuck, as the game doesn't provide any direction or hints about where to go, which can be frustrating.

The changes to the game are minimal, but welcome. You now need to have a Privacy Pass to bang the whore, instead of mingling with her right at the beginning of the game. There are some minor grammatical errors fixed, and you can go back to town after entering the Lich's lair. That last one addresses a problem I had originally, where you couldn't go back to town and restock. Now you can, but it was hastily added in because going back to the Lich's lair causes the screen to go black and stay that way. What a disappointment. I'm also upset that the panther enemies still have the ability to one hit kill you, it's not fair for them to be able to do that.

On the whole I'm not sure I like how some events kill you outright. Killing innocents should have consequences and it fits the mood of the game, but it's such a pain to have the credits roll and force you to restart. The end of the game is really bad about this, killing you for touching water that you could walk on before. There's a lot of guesswork at the final part of the lair that's pure guesswork, and you must reload your savestate if you choose wrong. It's a little extreme. An emulator and savestates are absolutely required to enjoy this game. Combine that with a lack of direction makes the game difficult to get into at first.

I did manage to find a new glitch this time around. When you defeat the fell dragon in the basement of the Lich's lair, you can collect a scotch item with gives 30 EXP and a red healing potion, which you can collect infinitely. So by drinking a whole lotta scotch before facing the Lich, you can destroy him easily. This kinda breaks the game's finely tuned balance into pieces, although I found it extremely helpful for beating the game. The very last boss particularly gave me a fight in my overpowered state. Maybe the game just leans too hard on difficult....

Presentation: 5/5

Everything about the presentation is top notch. It's a small game but it has so much visual flair in every level, most of it you can check too. It uses lots of neat visual techniques to really sell the story.

Gameplay: 4/10

It can be a very frustrating game to play. There's lots of insta-death events that will force a hard reset upon you, and the game leaves you out in the cold so you can figure it all out yourself. That said, it can be fun once you start to get it's nuances and can be enjoyable. You'll need to level up, something that isn't really emphasised throughout the game. The final third of the game can be very unforgiving, and full of random guessing or else you die moments.

It does have it's moments and can be fun, but it feels like the game is actively trying to ruin your experience at every turn.

Sound/Music: 5/5

Anything less than a full score here would be criminal. The use of music and sound effects is amazing and top notch, which really enhances the storytelling. I love it.

Lasting Appeal: 4/5

I want to give this a full score, but the game needs another update before that can happen. You can instantly die by panther enemies and you can't actually leave the Lich's lair without breaking the game. That said there's a lot of depth to the game and many secrets for those who are willing to explore it. The story itself is simple but very well presented, and gives the player a lot of options, which is awesome.

Final Score: 18/25

As I stated in my previous review, I would love to see another adventure of Pister Bane. The game is seeped in lore and interesting storytelling techniques, but actually playing the game itself is like playing a game of tug of war, you're constantly fighting the gameplay to get to the enjoyable stuff.
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:31 PM   #7
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Title: Variant
Creator: Sunstorm93
Platform: RPG Maker 2

Here we go!:

Writing reviews for this contest has been such a challenge and a pleasure. Trying to get my computer set up to play PC RPG Maker games to selecting a grading system to playing through the varied games, it's been a joy. I think that this game is the perfect end note however. The contest reviews started with a RPG Maker 2 entry, and my final review will be another RPG Maker 2 entry. It's time to wipe the salt out of my eyes and get to reviewing the final entry! Get ready!

As the game begins, you learn of Dragon, who destroyed many villages. You seem to be in some sort of subconscious as you begin. You then answer a personality questionnaire which determines your signature color and class. I ended up being a Mage, and my signature color is white. The game starts as you play a young man going on an adventure, and he goes off to find adventure! Not the most richly detailed story around, but the game clearly doesn't want to overload the player with useless exposition junk, which I appreciate.

The first time I went outside I was greeted by a random battle, and died pretty quickly. Uh oh! Turns out I wasn't quite mentally ready for a custom action RPG system, as I stayed in one place and mashed the square button. The second time I moved around a lot more and remembered I could use the circle button for medium attacks and triangle for strong attacks, and did much better as a result.

The battles do wear on you though, because they give very little EXP and money. Maybe it's just my character build, but enemies took a lot of damage whenever they hit me, so I'd run to town quite often to heal. The big problem I'm running into in the early game is healing items are too pricey for my meager budget. With that said though, I highly recommend using the bank. I put 10 bucks in the bank, and after defeating one dungeon I had 67 bucks in interest! Use the bank.

Another minor annoyance I learned the hard way is that you can run from boss battles. I was chipping away at the first boss, accidentally went too far to the left, and fled from the boss. It's nice to be able to avoid surefire death, but I had to start all over, which was pretty lame.

The story, while avoiding some of the more annoying cliches, is rather boring. You are a nondescript hero going out and doing good things, and that's about it. You do generally heroic things, like saving a girl from a monster and preventing the evil Dragon from resurrecting. The person doing the resurrecting is a bard, who attempted to take over a town and was chased out. You get to see him in the intro for a fraction of a second, and not see him again anytime soon. He supposedly does something evil with a drill offscreen, but due to it being offscreen, he never really gives me the sense that he's all that threatening. It's a passable and safe story, a vehicle to drive the gameplay, but it's ultimately forgettable.

Presentation: 3/5

The graphics range from impressive to bland. I like that the walls aren't very high so you can see everything indoors, but the game also lacks much in the way of interesting level design, most levels look fairly drab.

Gameplay: 4/10

Anyone who can make a custom battle system in RPG Maker 2 is worthy of respect, and what's here works. It's bogged down by other things that should be adding to the game, not taking away from it. The game gives you so little money and EXP, and I found myself dying quite often because I was woefully underprepared for every fight. Losing all your money when you die sucks, although the bank is nice. Maybe it was just my character build, but I found the game to be too difficult.

Sound/Music: 3/5

It has music and sound. It's your standard RPG Maker 2 effects, and it works without putting in the extra effort.

Lasting Appeal: 2/5

I feel like the game blows it load right from the get go. It has a flashy cool title screen and a fun personality quiz, and it just gets worse from there. The story is pretty inconsequential to the whole experience and I never got the feeling the game was trying to do anything ambitious. I got bored pretty quickly and didn't want to continue playing it.

Final Score: 12/25

For reference I played the game on Normal difficulty. Maybe some of the problems I encountered would have been mitigated if I had played Easy, but that wouldn't change the fact I'm not terribly fond of the game. It's an uphill struggle for me to keep playing the game on a mechanical and motivational level. The game offers you challenges without much reward and doesn't have anything interesting to keep you playing.

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Old 06-21-2016, 12:42 PM   #8
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

So that's it! Here are the results:


1. Ryner-22/25
(It was just a couple nitpicky things that kept it from a full score. You have a small game here with a very focused goal and stick to it, and I appreciate that.)


2. Dragaron-19/25
(The game was good fun and very well polished. It just needs a stronger focus I think.)


3. Jack King-18/25
(It was a joy to play through your game again. You have quite a gift for storytelling and atmosphere.)


4. Sunstorm93-12/25
(It's cool what you've done with the maker, but it's a very bland title. I would recommend taking a few more chances with your next game.)


5. Jamos-7/25
(You've got a lot that you can improve upon. The good news is, you can only go up from here.)


6. Duel-4/25
(You ought to be ashamed of yourself.)


Entrants, stay glued to your PM boxes as Valkysas will be with you soon to discuss your prizes. If any of you want to discuss your game send me a PM.

And with that, I officially declare the Anything Goes Contest 2015 to be finished. That's a wrap!
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Old 06-21-2016, 02:45 PM   #9
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

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Originally Posted by 1ce View Post

Presentation: 3/5
Gameplay: 3/10
Sound/Music: 3/5
Lasting Appeal: 1/5
Final Score: 7/25
Shouldn't have taunted 1ce when he was announced as the Contest Judge, Jamos! Don't mess with 1ce, baby! Not only did he wreck you in the review, he even added insult to injury by awarding you 10 points throughout and then adjusting your final score to a 7! Now you must plot revenge - sweet, slimy revenge. Such as thanking him for the tips in your credits but calling him "Ice" when you do so! Muahahahahah- *loud uncontrollable coughing* -ha!

Congrats to everyone who got a game in - it looks like a lot of really interesting concepts and a ton of effort were involved in these projects! I can honestly say that all six of the entries sound like there's a lot of potential for fun and engagement - some right out of the box, some with playability concerns that need to be fixed first - but all being games with elements worth improving and iterating on.

Big props to Ryner (once again the Contest King *shakes fist angrily*) for the three-peat. I played your game for a couple of hours and while your last couple projects were more my pace, there's no denying 12 Minutes is very nifty.

Thanks for getting this contest wrapped up so efficiently, 1ce!
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Old 06-21-2016, 03:14 PM   #10
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Thanks for another contest, Valk. And thanks for 1ce for stepping in with the reviews and for the feedback for my game. I'm glad to hear you quickly figured out you could take shortcuts, it's the key part of the game and I was worried that wouldn't be obvious.

I'm very intrigued by some of the other games that were entered. It sounds like there was good quality in the turnout and that warms my old heart.
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Old 06-21-2016, 03:40 PM   #11
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Does a new $400 console also warm your heart?

Or would an old, used, overheating console do a better job?

Well done, my friend.
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Old 06-21-2016, 04:20 PM   #12
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavelength View Post
Does a new $400 console also warm your heart?
That warms me someplace unmentionable.
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Old 06-21-2016, 06:33 PM   #13
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

I'm just glad you didn't run into any glitches, given how ridiculously frustrating and convoluted RPGM2 can be. Thanks for the lengthy review.

For clarification, the "focus" or narrative was delivered throughout the game as you unlock achievements, and in the end the context given ties all of the games together in a semi-rational way (hint: they revolve around the psychological state of the character you start the game as). Unfortunately, that requires 100% completion to really get the full flavor of the story, which in your case would have required you to soldier through types of games you don't prefer to play. I'm glad you didn't feel the need to torture yourself with the games you didn't find entertaining, because doing so probably would have only made matters worse.

As far as the game-breaking glitches in LichLair and Ryner's entries that you mentioned, I'm pretty sure that stuff was discovered and fixed a while back. I remember the Hermit's house/ship thing, and the EXP item exploit. Maybe you had old versions of those entries?

Sorry Duel and Jamos... Hopefully you guys take the reviews lightly and just as one person's opinion, unless they were not intended to be taken as serious entries, in which case, shame on you as 1ce said (just kidding).
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:17 PM   #14
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryner View Post
Thanks for another contest, Valk. And thanks for 1ce for stepping in with the reviews and for the feedback for my game. I'm glad to hear you quickly figured out you could take shortcuts, it's the key part of the game and I was worried that wouldn't be obvious.

I'm very intrigued by some of the other games that were entered. It sounds like there was good quality in the turnout and that warms my old heart.
Congrats, Ryner!
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Old 06-21-2016, 10:07 PM   #15
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Yeah, I could have sworn I'd fixed the scotch glitch. Almost positive, but I'll have to make sure. I am absolutely ecstatic that you enjoyed my game at all! I just want to defend one thing: The game leaves you without much direction, because it's supposed to emulate an investigation. You're given an outline of the case, and then left to your own devices. It was an odd, artsy narrative choice. I was going for a "medieval detective" vibe I guess. Ha! As for the panther, I just can't get rid of his one-hit attack! I'm sorry... He's a scarce enemy, and their one-hit kill has a very low percentage. It must have just been awful luck, and I apologize for that experience. I can't believe I was even good enough to run with the big dogs here, and that greatly inspires me to return to the legacy of Pister Bane! I am truly honored, and I hope to bring you all more rpg maker games in the future! Congrats Ryner! Also, nice to see you up there Dragaron! I'll have to try your guys' entries! Thanks again for the great read 1ce! Until next time everyone, always remember to, "Steel yourself, hunter..."
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Old 06-21-2016, 10:27 PM   #16
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

There may have been a misunderstanding about being able to leave the Lich Lair as well. It was designed to notify you to prepare yourself before entering. You were never supposed to be able to leave once you enter. The game clarifies that better in the newest version, but that was definitely intended from the start.
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Old 06-21-2016, 10:34 PM   #17
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LichLair View Post
Yeah, I could have sworn I'd fixed the scotch glitch. Almost positive, but I'll have to make sure...
I'm 99% sure you did fix it. Not sure how it resurfaced unless the reviewed file is an older file from before the revisions. Same in the case of Ryner's game, regarding the Hermit's house and the ship. But yeah LichLair, your game was good enough to run with the big dogs, definitely. I actually liked the decision of making it open-ended like an investigation, so I guess opinions do vary.

When I first played your game, Ryner, I thought the concept was simply brilliant. Like I said before, it reminds me of Half-Minute Hero (a good thing). I love games that are not afraid to make you learn by failing. Same was the case with LichLair's entry.

In hindsight, it would have been cooler and more satisfying to have numerous reviewers, just to get more than one person's opinion. Maybe even people that specialized in the different platforms. But, that would have been asking a lot. Thankfully at least one person did step up to judge, so thanks for that 1ce!
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Old 06-21-2016, 10:39 PM   #18
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Kind of bummed out that 1ce didn't really get far enough to get to the good parts, but that is fair enough. After all, I don't tend to want to keep going in a game that quickly loses my interest. I did have some concerns that it may have been a little difficult for people starting out, but I was wanting it to be kind of difficult. Apparently it was a little too much so I will have to work on that. I might have to increase the starting max health a little since before when I tried increasing the defense or decrease enemy attack a little it was too easy. I didn't really think that one would need the craftable consumables right off the bat, but that is another thing I should look into. Most of the stuff collected was to be used a little later. Also turns out that the RNG hated you 1ce. Boy that sucks not getting any health tonics. I didn't really have a recipe for the default health giver however now I will. I guess I should add a bit about how butterflies are a good source of tonics, as well. Was originally going to leave that unexplained. Didn't want to tell everyone everything. Anyway, I do appreciate your time and criticism. I really do need to get back on this. Been kind of lazy the last few months. lol
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Old 06-21-2016, 11:23 PM   #19
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

My game wasn't supposed to be in the contest at all. It was a scrapped project. But it's humorous seeing a demo get its own lengthy review.

As much as I like Ryner's idea, I'm surprised that his entry didn't get points knocked off in Presentation for using the RPG Maker's default RTP. I thought dragoron was going to win the contest because his game seemed to utilize RPG Maker 2's engine in interesting ways while Ryner's game was a small and interesting experiment. To be honest, I haven't played all the entires, but I did play Ryner's game and I thought it was just okay.

Congrats to everyone for taking the time to make something and thanks to Valk for hosting another contest. But yeah, my game wasn't even supposed to have a review because it wasn't a thing you could play and finished.
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Old 06-22-2016, 12:08 AM   #20
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Re: Anything Goes Contest 2015 RESULTS!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duel View Post
As much as I like Ryner's idea, I'm surprised that his entry didn't get points knocked off in Presentation for using the RPG Maker's default RTP. I thought dragaron was going to win the contest because his game seemed to utilize RPG Maker 2's engine in interesting ways while Ryner's game was a small and interesting experiment. To be honest, I haven't played all the entires, but I did play Ryner's game and I thought it was just okay.
Thanks for the kind words, Duel. As frustrating and time-consuming as making the game turned out to be, it kept me busy and challenged for quite a while. That's all I wanted, to be pressured into making something unique that pushed the envelope in new ways. Having people like 1ce, Drew, and my wife play the game and get some enjoyment out of it was a bonus.

Ryner's use of RTP resources never bothered me simply because I never used PC RPGMs much. But I suppose that someone else reviewing it that had a lot of previous experience reviewing PC RPGMs could have had a huge problem with it.
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