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    xinrua
  Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:54 pm
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This is looking very well done!

I can't wait!


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    Varelse
  Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:36 am
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So, this is coming out soon right? (Another demo?)


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    Lusus Naturae
  Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:02 am
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Location: Ohio
Just saw the site not too long ago. Looks pretty good, but some parts of it aren't quite as up-to-date as your DA gallery. Anyway, let's have an updated demo so we can all give it a shot, huh? The anticipation is killing me...

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    Lusus Naturae
  Wed Apr 23, 2008 6:41 am
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I was fortunate enough to get hold of the beta version of ProjectBC's brainchild, and while still incomplete, the demo/prologue, whatever you will, is coming together rather nicely. While there are still some technical issues to work out and segments to add in—mostly just minor bugs that didn't affect the experience—I think players will come to appreciate the updated version a great deal more. But let's get this under way and let you guys know exactly what's changed.

Story:
As you know, the story throws you right into the action and has you playing the bad guys before you meet your main protagonist, Auria Edith. Her day begins as what can only be assumed to be a typical one: forget to do a chemistry paper, go shopping, have lunch with a friend, get killed by a cop. Auria Edit is having a bad day. Luckily, she's offered a contract of sorts when she meets a peculiar man in a place known as the Void. She then finds herself in a surreal hall floating in darkness where she happens across a strange book that vaguely details her future. This is where the last, the incomplete, demo left off. This new prologue continues from there and details what happens after Auria wakes from what she assumes to be a nightmare and her day becomes even worse still. But she's just been killed! is what some may think. How can things go downhill from there for her? You'll just have to play and find out what happens next, because I'm keeping my lips sealed on the details.

Gameplay:
No random encounters, hidden items for those willing to look. These are both nice qualities, and I hope to see much more of the latter as the game progresses. Funny little interactions between controlled characters and the environment and NPCs (Weapon with the random guard and Auria with most any minor NPC or environmental detail she happens by)  sort of round things off and give the characters a bit more personality, and I like that, since the story is driven by, though not outrageously dependent upon, its characters.

The battle system has come together wonderfully. Techniques have been divided up into your generic Attack, more specialized Techniques, which have varyings costs, effects, and damage output (Pulse, for example, basically clears the field for 275 SP). The reaction mode has been successfully implemented now, and it works like a charm, though the reaction icons can be a little obstructive; making them a bit smaller might be prudent.

Again, the skills system is a nice feature, but there should probably be a prompt or a cheesy tutorial to give you a quick rundown of how to manage your skills and when you gain more points for them. (Maybe do it by means of a tongue-in-cheek parody of how other RPGs would handle it?) It was also nice to see more of the skills implemented this time, as before it was only Strength and Security you had use of before, and there wasn't all that much to do with them. So, kudos for putting that in and at least giving us something else to use them for this time around.

It's really good to see that you took my advice and added in indicators for paths leading out of the areas of the town. Though it doesn't affect much, the indicator at the south entrance to May Hill is covered up by the bottom of the window, so you may want to move that up, if for nothing else than the sake of consistency with the other areas. One way or the other, it probably won't mean much, but it's a minor discrepancy that stuck out a bit to me. Another issue is that every time you check a door in the beginning, you're given a prompt that tells you what room you're about to enter, when this could just as easily be done with a small sign so that you don't have to constantly be reminded.

Graphics:
It's good to see that things have progressed even here. There are some nice lighting/darkness and rain effects later on, for those who play far enough, and even some of the random obstructions have been moved out of the way or removed. One example of this is the lightposts that were in the middle of a couple streets in East Naven. This was a good call on the part of ProjectBC, and I was glad to see it done, as most anyone will be, unless they had a particular soft spot for those obstructive things.

Where the environmental graphics remain largely the same—and this is not a bad thing at all, because they just look great—the battle graphics have had a noticeable overhaul. The battle menu is much cleaner, with the interface having had a couple of tweaks here and there, such as the almost Final Fantasy X-esque turn-order indicator at the right of the screen and the sleeker character information along the bottom. Reaction mode is also now indicated by means of floating icons next to your characters (boots mean dodge, weapon means counter, and something else I didn't check out due to character builds means guard), and although these icons are translucent against the backdrops, they still seem a little distracting, as if they should be made smaller or moved. One of the most noticeable improvements to the battle graphics, though, is the techniques like Pulse and Shadow Wave, which are now done in Particle Illusion, along with some of the other abilities used outside of combat. Even with all the improvements, there was still a minor issue with the battle menu: you have about seven options in combat, but it only shows you five. If you don't scroll down, which you wouldn't otherwise know to do, you're not going to see them. It won't affect the outcome in that very first segment in particular, but it's something to consider for the future.

The out-of-battle sprites are pretty nice-looking, and there's even a little bit of animation on their hair and clothing, which adds a bit more life to the characters as they move about their surroundings. They also bear close resemblance to their artwork counterparts, which is good, considering some games have a character featuring a completely different look in their artwork than their in-game appearance—a diminishing trend that I find to be exceedingly annoying.

While there have been improvements and additions, it's also important to point out the bad. There's some annoying clipping that occurs in several places, mostly with trees and benches, where Auria gains the ability to walk through benches and fences, and occasionally walk on walls. Some things also appear to happen at the wrong time, like rain starting up later than it seems was intended. There are other weird issues like chimneys inexplicably blocking your path and characters facing the wrong way when they talk to someone. I imagine these will all be addressed in the final version, but they're definitely cause for docking a couple points.

Sound:
Well, well, you have been making improvements, haven't you? Much of the music and sound effects remain the same here, but the music choice isn't bad, though I have it on good authority that much of the music currently will be replaced by completely original tracks, and this is something I look forward to hearing quite eagerly.

The biggest and probably only improvement here has been the voice acting. Examiner's voice has fortunately been cut entirely, though a re-cast may eventually occur as the first Act is released. Apart from that, most of the voice actors are quite good, though it seems as though Tearson's VA is trying to force himself to have a deep voice rather than put more of his focus on sounding natural. Maybe there could be a bit more leniency there; rather than have someone doing a specific voice, have them. Another voice actor I did have a bit of an issue with was the man in the Void. His problem is that his voice fits fine, but he's trying too hard to sound ominous or mysterious, to a point that it was a mild irritation. Still, the voicework has improved nicely, and I can see that it's coming along.

Even so, there is some interference that comes in every so often, a little static in Auria's lines and some of those by later characters come in pretty muffled. Also, characters' lines occasionally overlap with one another and cut out inopportune parts, such as with Auria and her mother, of the conversation later between Auria and Seri. The sound effects themselves are pretty good, though, and most of them sound pretty good, apart from the beeps and boops in the beginning, when doors are being opened. There might be a better sound effect out there for that, so I'd recommend looking for something that sounds less dated.

Overall:
Things are comping along nicely now, and you've made some good improvements that are certainly taking this in the right direction. Still, you're not quite there yet, and it'd probably be wise to look into your voice actors a bit more, see if you can't find anyone a little better. Aside from that, your issues here seem to be little bugs that will inevitably be fixed. Good work, and good luck.

Score: 8/10 (Admirable)

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http://fc01.deviantart.com/fs24/f/2008/ ... jectBC.png[/img]


Last edited by Lusus Naturae on Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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    Sailerius
  Sat May 03, 2008 5:45 pm
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Thanks for the review. :) Due to (as was noted), some pretty extensive bugs, as well as the work on our contest entry (check out Vagrant Blood!), the demo's been pushed back to what I hope is next weekend.  While you wait, show your support by Digging our site, if you'd be so kind.
http://digg.com/pc_games/EPIC_Contention_Official_Site

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    Lusus Naturae
  Wed May 07, 2008 2:24 am
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Location: Ohio
Now that you mention it, Vagrant Blood, in spite of the contest's restrictions holding back some of the finer graphical points, is also pretty good. It doesn't take itself very seriously, and you can tell that from the start with some of the dialog, especially nearly all of Weapon's lines and his interactions with the charactersâ ‚¬ €mostly the female characters. It's got some cool little side quests, although the date sim isn't quite up to snuff and the coliseum opponent can be difficult at times. That aside, it plays smoothly, looks nice, and has a great, irreverent sense of humor. What's not to like? It's worth the twenty minutes it might take to download it, and it's a relatively small file size.

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    Sailerius
  Tue May 20, 2008 4:45 am
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I'm excited to announce that the new demo will be released tomorrow. I'm preceding the release with the announcement of the title change: it is no longer called EPIC: Contention.  The new title of our game is Vacant Sky Vol. I: Contention.  I updated the main post with some new goodies.

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    Sailerius
  Wed May 21, 2008 1:49 am
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The new demo is officially released!  Check it out.  Download link in the first post or on our site. :)

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    Bananananananana
  Wed May 21, 2008 2:02 am
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I love this project. Really liked the first demo and downloading the new one right now! Also, why was the name changed? Don't get me wrong, I really like it. <3 Oh and does Vol. I mean there's going to be more?  :D


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    Sailerius
  Thu May 22, 2008 10:09 pm
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Bananananananana wrote:
I love this project. Really liked the first demo and downloading the new one right now! Also, why was the name changed? Don't get me wrong, I really like it. <3 Oh and does Vol. I mean there's going to be more?  :D

The original series title (EPIC) was a nod to the role playing group whose misadventures inspired the original story, but we eventually had to face the fact that it was a lame and unmemorable series title, regardless of its origins.  And yes...there are a planned 3 volumes. :)

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    GrooveMan.exe
  Thu May 22, 2008 10:20 pm
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OH SHIT, an XP game that is actually set in a moden or futuristic setting? My prayers are answered. It's like everyone has a phobia of settings that don't involve castles and peasants. >>

Brb, downloading this.


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    Sailerius
  Sat May 24, 2008 5:54 am
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I added a secondary download link for those who hate Megaupload:
http://www.mediafire.com/?hkqtzcudtxg

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    evergreen
  Sun May 25, 2008 10:57 pm
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Location: Far Far Away, UK
Hey.
Very well done on this project.

The execution was solid, and I believe that the title screen was great too.
Some standout things were the animations. They were absolutely spectacular (most of them) and really show the effort you've put into this project. Other than this, the music really stands out as non repetitive and the sort of stuff that I would go for in a video game. Violins with other instruments make a great recipe! I enjoyed the first dungeon-ish place, as well as the cut scenes. They were just about right and gave away the right amount of information. I must admit that the mask on the floor of one of the parks was something that creeped me out every time I walked pass. The voice acting was, although not fantastically spectacular awesomeafying, was still as near as to perfect it can be in a game like this, and had a good quality to it too, which is something that you don't notice until you've heard bad voice acting.

Although it wasn't all handy dandy. For example, I wandered the town for absolutely ages and ages. Sometimes forgetting what I was meant to be doing. I would include an item like the list of things to do, and also neaten up the transitions between the three maps. To me they just didn't make sense. Also, when I'm meant to check out the house on the way home, I could barely even see it (I hope it was the right one) and whether or not this triggered a switch for me to go home is beyond me, so I would sort that out too. I also noticed a few bugs, meaning that the maps and sprites were not showing up whilst I booted up the game a couple of times, accompanying a black rectangular bar at the bottom of my screen (not whilst on menu or save screen, only map) and a freezing of the game during the bridge scene.

But, apart from the latter points, I will stay tuned to this game, and I give it a well deserved 83%. It was worth the time, and was a pleasure to play.

:)


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    Sailerius
  Sat May 31, 2008 2:20 am
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Thanks for your review.  The glitches you mentioned I've never heard of before...could you give me some more details, please?

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    Calibre
  Mon Jun 02, 2008 3:44 am
What are you supposed to write here because I don't know.
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Location: South of England
Hey Sailerius, I just downloaded this tonight.  It's the first RMXP game I've downloaded in a long while other than short ones.

I won't say too much until I've played more but I'm pretty impressed.  If this was released last summer it would have got a lot more attention, it seems rm games are getting much less attention this year which is a shame.  That being said, this still should be getting more attention than it is in my opinion.  It's very polished if nothing else.

Of course it's not all good and I'll be getting back to you on that but at the moment it's more gripes or peeves than full-blown flaws.

The opening bit of play was a fantastic game intro, I was pretty disappointed after the actual game started, it seemed very anti-climatic.  I would have been happy playing as those guys though the fact you made a host of skills and battle sheets for them, one would asusme that is the case anyway.

More from me when I have a better overall picture.

TO EVERYONE ELSE... GIVE THIS SOME MORE ATTENTION.

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    regi
  Wed Jun 04, 2008 3:19 am
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Very nice job on this project, Sailerius. Decided to give it a go last night, and it was a fun, well-executed game.

The title screen was animated pretty well, although an option to skip it would be nice. The intro was pretty hooking, good job on that. I liked the battle system and customizable stats. The maps were good, too, better than average certainly.

Now, some things I'd like to comment on. Auria's starting town was a bit difficult to get around. It's a big place, and kind of annoying to walk back and forth doing errands. It's also hard to remember all the things you need to do. A quest log or list of some sort would help.

Also, the voice acting was a nice touch, but it felt a bit out of place listening to it. For example, only a few cutscenes had voices, while others were silent. Sometimes, the text would scroll faster or slower than the voice, and you'd have to wait for it to catch up. These are just minor things, but fixing them would improve the demo a bit.

Oh, and there was a small bug in the final village (Alibaas). After you leave the house, if you reenter before finding Salijara in the cave, the cutscene where you wake up happens again. This can probably be fixed with an easy self-switch.

Anyway, I liked the demo so far. Music was also fantastic, and there was certainly a cinematic feel in each cutscene. Keep it up, hope to see more in future releases.


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    Sailerius
  Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:35 am
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Quote:
Oh, and there was a small bug in the final village (Alibaas). After you leave the house, if you reenter before finding Salijara in the cave, the cutscene where you wake up happens again. This can probably be fixed with an easy self-switch.

Yeah, I'm aware of that. X_x I have no idea how I and all the testers missed that huge bug.

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    Sailerius
  Sun Jun 08, 2008 7:07 pm
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A couple new pieces of fanart since the release of the new demo--

Spring Rain by LucaMaria

Auria by Luvcnkll

Serijala by FuzzyHat

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    Reives
  Sun Jun 08, 2008 11:54 pm
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Location: Canada
Looking fancy, love the line arts. c: Third one's my favourite, although simple.


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    Taylor
  Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:54 am
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I've just completed the demo, and I'll try and keep this as simple as possible.

Spoilery

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Last edited by Taylor on Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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    Sailerius
  Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:40 pm
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Thank you very much for the critique. :)

Content Hidden

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    Taylor
  Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:33 pm
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With the old man NPC, I mean that he just... slides along the ground without moving his legs. It appears to fix itself when he turns up though. He's walking around the area the woman in the blue-green dress is sitting on a bench in town.

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    Sailerius
  Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:09 pm
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Quote:
With the old man NPC, I mean that he just... slides along the ground without moving his legs. It appears to fix itself when he turns up though. He's walking around the area the woman in the blue-green dress is sitting on a bench in town.

Hmm...that's strange. o_O I don't see it.  I'll try running it on my desktop and see if it happens there.

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    Sailerius
  Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:39 pm
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A couple new tracks from the original soundtrack:

http://www.mediafire.com/?mpjmk0e0mia
Act I Overture - "To Banivia"

http://www.mediafire.com/?mdtx39dzkty
Theme of Meraiden - "Into Memory"

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    Sailerius
  Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:14 pm
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An absolutely beautiful new piece of fanart:

http://fc03.deviantart.com/fs29/f/2008/ ... g_chan.jpg[/img]

Also, Act I is coming along quite nicely and should be finished within the next few weeks.

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    seven
  Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:17 pm
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Woah... that looks like a poster I might see for the theaters... *gawks*


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    Fayte
  Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:22 pm
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This might be artistic flavor, not sure, but why can you see her eye through her hair? It looks strange to me but other then that I think it looks pretty good.

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    seven
  Wed Jul 02, 2008 3:17 am
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Just noticed that. It looks as if the eye was added in at the last minute.
It's starting to creep me out now that you mention it...


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    yami_shinyi
  Sat Jul 05, 2008 2:30 am
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I recently finished the demo, and wow. It was definately an enjoyable experience and I can't wait for the full version. Story pulled me in within the first minute.

One thing I do like is all the custom edits to the battle system. The doge/guard/counter system is ingenious. And no 'attack' command, although you do have 'strike'. I don't think the basic system is bad, I just think you switching it up is a bonus.

Also, the voice acting was nifty too. And Auria's hair is pretty. *pets pixels*


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    Dark_linis
  Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:01 am
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Location: a mostly blue planet
Cool demo, um I'm just posting to show a little glictch I found

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besides that, everything looked fine, I'm not a fan of these types of stories but this one kept me playing langer than most other RMXP games do. I especialy like the voice acting. Good Luck :wink:

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