So I've been taking two steps forward, one step back with my RPG progress. I had a sort of working RPG, but I just felt like it wasn't anything special. I could do better.
The default mapping tileset that RPG Maker comes with has been driving me crazy. On the one hand, a lot of the individual elements of the tileset are very well done. On the other, a lot of the elements feel mismatched and use weird perspective views when all used together, and the grid-based nature of the tileset can feel very unlively.
So, I've gone on a quest to wrangle some plug-ins that will allow me to create much better looking maps with Blender and export them to RPG Maker. Changing plug-ins means there are some things that I can do now that I didn't think I'd be able to, and there are a few things that I took for granted that I'm not able to do anymore. So I need to do some re-thinking about how this is all going to work.
The map I've shown in the video doesn't look that great yet. If you want a better example of what 3D maps can look like, check out my old aborted project, Vacation in Ninja-land. But the thing is, I didn't actually make those maps myself, they come with the Synty models, making maps and environments is not something I'm very familiar with. In particular, I've written up the first level to be a forest, but a forest is actually an extra difficult thing to design. I'm going to go look up some level design videos, but I might re-write it to be a forest ruin or forest cave instead.
In another area, I've decided to greatly expand the magic system. You get magic spells by equipping "Orbs". Originally, I was going to make Orbs appear in treasure chests, shops and monster loot like a normal RPG, but then I thought, if I'm going to let you craft weapons and armor in this game, I might as well let you craft magic as well. So there will be a big list of magic variations and you can craft whatever you want. I think the idea will be that magic orb building materials will be relatively scarce, so you'll have enough scrap to build a single double-cast orb, for example, and it's up to you to decide if you want that to be a double-fire, double-lightning, double-heal, etc.
I've also decided to use the Aekashics Librarium series of monster graphics instead of the RPG Maker default. It's kind of a goofy, cartoony style, but there are some really cool monsters in there, and frankly an absolute shitload of them, at least 800. This huge collection of monsters, combined with the map making thing, means I can do broader story telling without needing to play along with the limited map and monster resources that RPG Maker comes with. It means a little rewriting, but I've already gotten to a new version of the story that I like, so I'll hopefully be moving on to getting things done again very soon. The Librarium is free, with special perks for Patrons and special offers on itch.io, so definitely check them out if you're making an RPG of your own.
If you're wondering why I don't just draw my own monsters, that would just be SO time consuming. There will be a few humanoid bad guys that use Acheron Series models, but it would be totally unreasonable to do an entire game's load of monsters myself, in addition to everything else.