Category Archives: Incomplete

Painted Space Review

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It’s always nice to see old faces return to the OHRRPGCE community. In this case, Eagtile (now know as earrgvark?), the creator of earlier OHR games such as Help Wanted!, dropped off a game that they say is likely to never be finished. Despite only being about an hour in length, I’m sad to hear that this may never be finished up. This is because Painted Space shows a lot of potential for such a short demo.

The story is simple, yet intriguing. The creator of the world “paints” existence into reality. Once He is finished, he goes into a deep sleep. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of this specific world continue to flourish and live their lives.

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You are Isaac, who is one of many beings in the “painted space”. Before being cast out into the world, you select a color and shape of your soul. The colors stand for each type of combat stat (such as strength) while the shapes relate to the type of weapon you master (such as a chain whip). While I only tested one particular build, I imagine that the others may or may not work properly. Either way, it is an interesting concept that isn’t used quite too often in OHRRPGCE games.

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After you make your decision, you take control of Isaac. You discover that, as he gets older, he begins to question his the purpose of his existence. He’s lived alone his entire life; trapped by “abominations” within a forest. Years have passed, however, and Isaac believes he may be strong enough to combat the abominations, and see the world beyond his wooded cabin. Before setting out into the woods though, Isaac decides to first test his skills by visiting a cave close to his home.

Painted Space features a single dungeon that is in a non-linear format. There are branching paths, and tons of loot to encourage exploration. Fortunately, the dungeon is just about right in length, as the multiple paths before you never seem too daunting to traverse.

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The battle system is interesting, but there isn’t enough variety given the length of the demo to really get an idea of how the author envisioned it “as a whole”. There is a color-coordinated system in place (or was “to be” put in place), that gave certain color enemies strengths and weaknesses based on that. For the sake of the demo, however, you are generally fine with sticking to your basic attacks for almost every battle (at least for the strength / claw build I chose). It was nice to see some strategy involved with the dungeon boss too. While he wasn’t incredibly hard, there was definitely a specific way to defeat him efficiently.

If I had to choose the weakest link, it would probably be the music. That’s not to say it isn’t good, it just has a few tracks you might have heard before. The placement of them in itself was acceptable, however.

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Whether you are religious or not, I think we all have questioned our existence at some point in time. The fact that Painted Space challenges this idea from the very beginning was extremely interesting to me. Unfortunately, the prologue is essentially the stopping point for the story thus far. You are simply left wondering what might have happened beyond the forest.

What did Isaac find out about God (or Gods), the meaning of his life, and everything in between? While it’s tough to say from such a short demo whether a completed version would be everything I hope for, there is enough here to say this: Painted Space, given the proper care and polish, could be a really neat title. I sincerely hope that Eagtile-er aardvark continues to work on this project.

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Ancient Speculation – Threads of Time

Ancient Speculation is a review periodical that covers incomplete OHRRPGCE games that have long been abandoned since their original release. I do my best to cover what little the game has to offer, as well as theorize on what “could have been”.

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Threads of Time was released almost 14 years ago and is one of many OHRRPGCE games that starts out fairly strong while ultimately falling hard in the end.

The introduction makes you question your beliefs on “what we actually are”, and “what we are capable of doing” as human beings. Outside of a few grammatical errors, it is actually well written and does a pretty good job of grabbing your attention.

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The story (or should I say introduction to the story) is by far the strongest aspect in Threads of Time, though it still leaves much to be desired. After the initial dialogue is over, you view a flashback of the main character, Vance, who apparently lost his sister to a freak attack a few years ago.  When you wake up from his nightmare, you take control of the game for the first time. Unfortunately, that’s where the game takes a huge nosedive into a pile of poo.

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Once the introductory text is over, the quality of dialogue gets much, much worse. There are tons of run-on sentences, as well as spelling/grammatical errors throughout the rest of the game. For some reason, the author also felt the need to capitalize random words as opposed to using rational capitalization.

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Vance decides to visit his sister’s grave because today marks the anniversary of her death. I would be okay with the notion if the author made it clear exactly how long she has been dead. Over the course of the game, it is suggested by multiple characters that she’s been dead for two, three, and up to eight years. Apparently nobody really knows when she died, yet her departure from life still seems to be a sore spot with Vance. I think most people would agree that you’d probably remember the date of your sibling’s death pretty easily.

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Before you head out, be sure to grab some flowers from your Grandma, who apparently owns the Inn and adopted you after your parents died (this Vance kid has had a tough life). Also be sure to snag a coffee…or two…or 50, from the Inn before you go. There are two treasure chests that give you an infinite amount of coffees, which act as restorative items in and out of combat. Either this was not intended, or the Inn happily supplies enough coffee to serve the entire world. Regardless, be sure to pick up at least a dozen coffees, because you will need them for the next part of the game.

Vance heads into the forest to pay respects to his sister.  Along the way, you will be attacked by numerous plants and the occasional blob creature. After a couple of fights, you will see why the Inn coffee bug is so valuable. The enemies range from being pushovers to destroying you in just a couple rounds. Unless you want to use your entire supply of coffee, you should consider running from the harder enemies for now. Am I the only one that finds it amusing that Vance chose to bury his sister in a enemy-infested forest? Perhaps at one time it was a calm area, but I think that would make too much sense for this game.

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Once you get to the gravestone, you pay your respects and then promptly leave. Vance doesn’t even leave the flowers at the grave! On the way back to town, you are confronted by the monster that apparently killed your sister. He has a lot of health, but isn’t very difficult if you have a few coffees at your disposal.  Afterwards, you continue on your way home until you run into your friend, Nataly, whom tells you to get over the death of your sister. Not only does she lack subtlety in her words, but the grammar in this particular event is so bad that you may cry (I know I did).

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After a hissy fit, she explains that the “gang” is getting back together and that they need Vance’s help (whatever that means). This girl obviously couldn’t give two craps that you are mourning on the the anniversary of your sister’s tragic death. She invites you by her home so that you both can go on an adventure to a nearby “haunted” mansion. This is actually explained in a bit more detail in-game, but none of it really makes any sense beyond the basics I just laid out.

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Once you’ve visited Nataly’s home and reunited with the “gang” (which consists of one additional hero that sports incomplete walkabout and battle graphics), the game is essentially over. You can visit the mansion and do a couple things there, but none of it really matters or makes any sense. Can you see the recurring theme of things not making sense here?

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Threads of Time makes use of several tracks from the Final Fantasy series, as well as multiple tracks from Chrono Trigger. While their placement is alright, I can’t help but not take a game serious when over half of its soundtrack comes from an ultra-popular professional game. In my opinion if you have to rip music, don’t rip more than one track per game. While you are at it, try to use lesser known titles so people are not thinking about how great the game you stole from is while they struggle to get through yours without vomiting.

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Unfortunately, the ripping doesn’t stop with the music. it is quite obvious that the author ripped many graphics from the Final Fantasy series. The sad thing is that some of his original work is halfway decent, but  there’s such a huge disconnect between the ripped and  original work that it is a bit painful on the eyes. Ripping graphics and music from the same games once again reminds me that I could be playing THOSE games instead of THIS one, so why do it in the first place? Why make your own game if you’re stealing so many assets from pre-existing games?

If the ripping wasn’t enough for you, there are also numerous bugs riddled throughout Threads of Time. Wallmaps are missing in several areas, doors don’t work properly, and there’s even one house that will force you to restart the game unless you use debugging keys. At the beginning of the game, Vance mentions that he has no money to buy supplies. After entering the forest and defeating the boss, you have enough funds to buy all of the best equipment in the game about six times over. Some products in the item shops don’t cost anything at all! Other item descriptions are horribly wrong and do the exact opposite of what they describe.

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Threads of Time is definitely a title I’m glad was never finished. Although it started off quite intriguing, it was very obvious that the author didn’t even bother playing the game before release. If your demo is in that bad of shape, it should have never been uploaded in the first place. I cringe thinking about how terrible the full game would have been given its current state.

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Ancient Speculation – Art of War

Ancient Speculation is a review periodical that covers incomplete OHRRPGCE games that have long been abandoned since their original release. I do my best to cover what little the game has to offer, as well as theorize on what “could have been”.

Art of War was one of many games released around the time that Operation: OHR was still active (2000-2003). What makes it interesting to me is that it never received any recognition during its time on Operation: OHR. Surprisingly, it appears to have never been reviewed during its many years being hosted on Castle Paradox either. Maybe the game was not mentioned because it is terrible, or perhaps there isn’t enough to even really call it a game in the first place. I decided to download it and find out for myself.

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Upon loading the game, I was greeted with a title screen that, despite showing its age, could be considered “decent” even by today’s standards. Very few games from that OHRRPGCE generation had title screens worth a crap, so this would have likely been considered amazing art back in the day. I couldn’t help but get a Dragon Ball Z vibe from it though, and knowing how most old OHR DBZ games turned out made me a bit nervous to continue.

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The scripted introduction features the red/orange haired “karate man”, Trajan, from the title screen as an agent that is sent to earth on a mission to do something. Although it isn’t very clear exactly what Trajan’s mission on earth is, it doesn’t appear to be good for the world’s citizens.

After that, you are sent away to earth via an in-game cutscene that is animated by multiple backdrops (FMV). FMV’s and other animation techniques, while much more common these days, were pretty rare during the time of this game’s release. Regardless, the animated cutscene was a nice touch.

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You are then put into the body of Anix, who is apparently a huge karate enthusiast. He hears about a nearby town that was struck by a meteor (ie. Trajan), and is concerned that the upcoming martial arts tournament may be cancelled because of it. I think if a meteor fell in my town, the last thing I’d care about is chopping other people in the necks. Alas, with nothing better to do,  Anix decides to investigate the situation for himself.

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Sadly, outside of a few battles and an additional character, this is where the game ends. The manual that comes with the game suggests that there is more to do, but I don’t believe any of it was actually implemented fully before release. It is my understanding that this particular demo is an incomplete rehash of an older demo of the same game, though I couldn’t tell you whether the original demo was ever available to download or not. Art of War’s Operation: OHR page shows several screenshots of areas not present in this rendition, so it is possible that the older version was available at some point in time.

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It’s hard to say exactly how this game would have turned out if it were ever finished. I applaud the author for having a decent title screen and for using a well-animated FMV in the intro, but that is about where my appreciation stops for the game. The battles present are dull and uninspired, and there are just too many DBZ-like influences in the game to really make me care about it as a whole. There was also a game-breaking bug that I found in Anix’s home that will force you to quit the game unless you resort to the debugging keys. Due to how old this game is, it is certainly possible that the bug is from just from the game being old rather than neglect on the author’s part though.

In short, Art of War has a couple of neat tricks up its sleeve, but is ultimately not creative nor finished enough to make it worth your time. I think most people would agree with me that we’ve had enough trash, DBZ-inspired games to make our own landfill anyways. Perhaps it’s best that this title never came into full fruition after all.

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Review:Grayscale

Ever wondered about what life would be like if you lived in a monochromatic world? Probably not, but that is pretty much what Grayscale is about at this point.

You play as Brody in the land of Monchromia. Basically, you can walk around and talk to people until you discover that a local girl has been missing for a while. Brody decides to investigate the matter and finds out that she was taken hostage by a great walking tree. Once you slay the beast and save the girl, you get bored and decide there’s nothing left to do but explore the rest of the world.

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One thing I like about Grayscale is the fact that it is, you guessed, completely drawn in black, white and shades of gray. As I was playing, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the original Game Boy days, though the Game Boy palette was a little bit different compared to this one. The graphics just have that nostalgic feel to them in my opinion.

The graphic design itself isn’t amazing, but I think given the palette it works best that way. The only real complaint I have about the cosmetics are the ground color, which should probably be a few shades darker than it is right now to help ease the eyes.

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Unfortunately, that is about the extent of my compassion for Grayscale. When releasing such a short demo, it is crucial to grab the player’s attention. As of now there’s no real point or purpose to the game, besides Brody being bored and wanting to find stuff. That alone is not enough to keep me going at this point.

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The dialogue could use a revamp as well. Some of the conversations are a bit awkward, and there are a few errors throughout the script as well. These are minor issues that can easily be fixed in no time. Combat is a bit weird in the fact that there are no restorative items that I could find besides using your bed all the way back in town.

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I mistakenly stumbled on a boss fight and had very low HP and no items to counteract my wounds. Luckily, I was still able to overcome the boss without having to start back over. Still, it would still be nice to have some sort of healing items to use both in and out of combat.

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As it stands, Grayscale can’t really be called a demo. There really isn’t much to it; making it difficult to recommend in its current state. Again, I dig the color choices, but much more work needs to be done for me to suggest others to play it.

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Review:.Hack//OHR

.Hack//OHR, much like Veteran RPG and OHR Battle before it, started out as a community/collaborative-based game with high hopes of success and promises of great things. Setu’s project was hyped up a good bit on the forums when it first started out, but things grew a bit stale as time progressed on. It seems as if the author’s heart was in the right place, but the passion for making a potentially awesome, collaborative game died out a short while after the idea was initially mentioned.
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I haven’t played any of the commercial .Hack games, but I’m going to assume that it is similar to Setu’s game. The world of Hack is essentially an MMORPG simulator in an OHRRPGCE game. The idea itself is awesome, and if executed properly, would make an excellent game in my opinion. Just because an idea would make a good game doesn’t mean everyone is equipped to handle the task though. For instance, such an idea would likely require an extensive knowledge of plotscripting. Unfortunately, scripting is used very lightly in Hack, and it shows from the very beginning. There’s only so much that one can accomplish through light plotscripting and tag usage, and I don’t think that it alone would have been enough to make this game what it needed to be in order to succeed.
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When you “log in” to the game, you begin in the “Root Town”, where you can interact with other players online. You can invite them to join your party, trade with them, or just chat like you would in any any other online game. These other “players” are actually avatars of other people “playing” the game with you. Most of them are even members of the OHRRPGCE community itself. After walking around town some, you are free to buy items from the shop, or go out into a “field” via the “Chaos Gate”. The Chaos Gate acts as your gateway to other areas in the game, or “zones” in an MMOG. Once out in the field, you can zone into other sub-zones to fight monsters to gain items, money and experience, or you can go to the end of the zone and enter a dungeon. The game ends after something goes wrong in the first dungeon and you “crash” the area. After a brief dialogue between a band of villains and yourself, there is nothing more you can do in Hack//OHR.
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It’s a shame too. This game is over six years old now and could have been a neat game if the right people were involved. I think that Setu wanted to make it happen, but after delving into the idea a bit, he realized that it was a little more than he could handle himself. Again, the sheer amount of scripting needed to pull something off like this would probably make most people choke. I commend Setu for trying to make it happen, but I don’t think it would have worked out as planned under his command. As it stands, Hack is just another incomplete game that should have never been released to the public so prematurely.

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Review:Fall Be Kind

Fall Be Kind isn’t a bad game at heart (that is, the little bit of foundation seemed alright), it is just not really anything other than that. What I mean is that there is so little gameplay that there is not really much one can say about it. On the plus side, the graphics were okay and the controls were smooth, but that is where the goodness ends. Not to mention that the game really had nothing to do with Thanksgiving (save for the title and a glitchy turkey npc), which is mainly why I marked this a bad game in the first place. The whole point of doing a contest game is to focus on the theme. When you avoid that, it pretty much defeats the purpose of joining the contest in the first place.

This could turn out to be a cool game, then again, it might not. It is tough to say at this point considering that amount of content available at this time.

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Review:Submarine

Submarine, can seem a bit misleading. No music, no title screen, and three minutes of game play; sound promising doesn’t it?

Actually, I was quite surprised with this game. It may not be exciting to some given today’s standards, but I think that this could have been a really neat game if it were to be finished back in its prime. The game itself is very simple; you navigate your submarine through the maze-like landscape, avoiding things such as mines, and reach the end of the area alive.

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I was upset when I completed the tutorial level and the game was over. I was really hoping to see more content here, but I was still impressed even by the very small amount present in the game. While the graphics are nothing spectacular, they are colorful, and easy on the eyes.

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Again, this game is very simple, yet, so different for its time. Nowadays with advanced plotscripting, it’s not uncommon to see a non-RPG OHR game. Back in the early days, however, it was rare to see anything besides a Final Fantasy clone. Although Submarine proved to be a very simple game, I highly respect the author for breaking out from the norm and beginning to piece together something unique during a time when such a thing was rare.

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If you have a few minutes to spare, check this game out and see for yourself.

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Review:Super Aztec RPG: The Golden Skull

I thought that an Aztec/Mayan themed OHR game would pretty sweet. I had high hopes for this game, although in the back of my mind I knew that there was a reason why it had never been talked about before.

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Upon loading it up…yep, that is why. The very first thing you see are ripped maptiles, which doesn’t seem very promising. Disgusted already, I decided to truck on and see what the game was all about. Your task is to find a Golden Skull, but I do believe that it is impossible given the current state of the game. However, you can go left to meet your friend and slay some Spaniards, right to view an unfinished trading area that reminded me of Secret of Evermore, and south to play the never-ending mini-game called “Headball”.

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Headball is very simple; you pelt the opposing team (who also has an unfair 3:1 advantage to you) and then you hit the ball into the “goal” enemy. I suppose this would have worked alright, but it seems as if the game never ends. You miss 90% of your shots, and I went a good ten minutes against the “goal” without being able to “win” or defeat it. I wasn’t going to waste anymore time with it, so I decided to run. Too bad I couldn’t run, which meant I had to terminate GAME.exe manually.

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Unfortunately, this is just another incomplete title that should have never been released in the first place. I commend the author for trying to throw some different gameplay mechanics into the mix, since they were half-butted attempts though it just made the game worse. I still think a Mayan/Indian/Aztec game would be killer though. With that being said, this was my favorite title of the four because I felt it had the most potential. Use of mini-games, a trading post, and a different theme would have made it a neat little game if it were ever finished.

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Review:Resident Evil’s Operation: Rageing Cheetah

It’s generally not a good idea to make a spin-off game from a well known game series. In my experience, most of them turn out to be total crap. Rageing Cheetah is no different than the other spin-off titles that have failed to meet even a decent game’s standards.

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To be completely honest, there is not much to this game. Part of the story, which involves the Resident Evil company Umbrella and a new company Zentech fighting for the ultimate bio-weapon, is briefly laid out by Al Gore himself in the prologue. After that, your Umbrella team sets out to find the latest and greatest bio-weapon. Other than exploring for a few minutes, there is nothing left to do.

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After playing the game, I am very confused of why it was made. At first glance, with the Al Gore cameos, buggy areas and terrible spelling, it seems like a joke game. However, some of the graphics show some signs of potential. The author would likely not care what his work looked like if it wasn’t going to be taken seriously in the first place. Then again, people are crazy and you never know what they may do.

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Again, there really isn’t enough here to even call this a demo. In its current state, I would call it very incomplete. The fact that it was last updated in 2001 means that it will probably stay in its unfinished state forever.

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Review:Warriors of Conway

Ken Soto was a member of the OHRRPGCE community back in the early 90’s. Although he disappeared from the OHR populace sometime in 1999, some of his work left a lasting impression on me. Enough of an impression that I felt the need to share it with others. Warriors of Conway was Ken’s first idea for a game, even though it was never fleshed out.

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To be honest, there is not much content to it at all. In Ken’s defense, he stated that it was a “pre-demo”, only uploaded to show a select few the project, as per the game’s bundled documentation. Regardless, that is not the point, as I believe that there is an underlying lesson to be learned from Ken and the Warriors of Conway.

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As mentioned before, there is not much to the game itself, and the story is ultimately nonexistent. You begin the game as Ken (go figure), and you discover that you and your uncle have moved to your current location from a land far away to aid in your training. Apparently, your uncle can hold his own well, because he ends up saving you from a giant you stumble upon while wandering the forest one day. You can continue through the forest and onto a town that has only a few citizens (and a friend that will join you), but that is completely up to you. There is no real reason to venture to the village, as the game ends there abruptly.

The game is pleasing to the eyes. Although the graphics are not stellar, some aspects could still be considered at or right above average. Considering the game is over ten years old now, I would say that is a remarkable feat. The same thought applies to the music as well. Ken was definitely talented in the musical department and it more than shows here. From what I understand, he wrote the entire score himself, with rumors of 10 or 15 more pieces that were slated to be used in the game eventually. The forest theme sounded fantastic, and every other piece I heard was nice and fit the mood of its respective location.

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With that being said, the game as a whole is definitely incomplete. It should not be considered even “demo” material, just like Ken Soto mentioned in his documentation.

So, what is the big deal? Let me quote something from the text file included with the game:

“I’ve taken a look around at all of the ripped OHRRPGCE games, and it doesn’t tick me off, because I can understand it gets frustrating and upsetting sometimes trying to draw your own graphics to match up with the other veteran games out there, but I just hate to see so many people with a lot of potential give up so quickly on their own abilities. Just take a look at the first Warriors of Conway game on my homepage, and even Dark Sword for that matter, and compare it to the graphics in this game, and you’ve got to see a big difference. I tell you, anyone can improve THAT MUCH and more if they just keep at it. It’s going to take time; you can’t put out a winner overnight, so have patience, and take the time to fiddle with even just one maptile if that’s what it comes to. And if you get stuck on a graphic, move on, or ask for help, but please, don’t rip, not because it’ll probably just annoy the heck people, but because your game will be so much better, just because you did it all yourself.”

~Ken Soto

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What does this tell me? Should I not rip graphics? I personally don’t believe in it, but that’s not to say that one should not do it. Should I write all of my own music for my game? I have personally written some pieces for my first game, The Omega, but was never able to write an entire score for it. Regardless of what you may think, this is not the point that I am trying to make. I simply think that Ken Soto had passion. Now, I am not trying to set him up on a pedestal and make him special, but I think that he should be commended for his thought process and work.

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How many times do we as game developers lose passion for a certain aspect of game design? Whether it is something that is boring to us personally, or just something that we are not good at, I think we have all fallen victim to that train of thought at some point in time. What I am trying to say is this; whether you are good at something or not, you should still try and do your very best. Even if it is not up to other’s standards, putting 100% effort into your projects can make a huge difference, even if others pick it apart.

Again, please do not take this as saying that you should not receive help from others. Rather, take it as you should simply put forth your best effort into your project, whatever it may be and however you may go about it. I think that is something that we can all appreciate; veteran and newbie alike.

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