One of the opinions I reached during the last half of 2014 is that RPG Maker/Indie Horror RPGs are perhaps the most interesting aspect of the modern video game industry. Perhaps it’s that I am a rookie on the genre, but most titles I have come across so far are very interesting and, despite the low budget and the small number of developers, original. Dreaming Games, a team of three people Accha (artists & producer), Trass (main composer) and Usachii (main vocalist) is among those who seem to have a promising future. They have already released titles such as Painted Heart and -the excellent, if I may say so- Dreaming Mary. Both games have gained the attention of the fandom and I really wanted to have them participate in an interview with us. Despite our many delays, they were thankfully happy to participate and tell us all about their games and their team.
Neko-chi (N): Introduce yourselves to us.
Accha (A): I’m Accha, a motion graphics student who likes to draw. This year I decided to make some games. The first is a 20-minute long adventure/horror called Dreaming Mary and the second is an hour long RPG called Painted Heart.
(N): What got you into game developing? What were the biggest challenges you faced at the beginning?
(A): I think every video game fan has wanted to make one of their own at some point. I never did much about it for a while, but after helping Trass with several of his game concepts as an illustrator, the idea grew on me.
For me, the hardest part about making games is actually just starting. If you don’t plan your game, you’ll never know where to start or what to do, so nothing ever gets done. That’s how it was for me: I had a bunch of ideas but never wanted to sit down and plan out what happens first, and what could possibly happen next. It’s tiresome work, but for story games it has to be done.
(A): Painted Heart was made for the 2014 Indie Game Maker Contest. Trass and I wanted a shot at the 10,000 dollar grand prize, so we decided to create a short RPG. We tossed around a lot of ideas but eventually settled on something related to art, as we thought it would be cool to have an artist as a hero who couldn’t actually fight. It was fun but stressful work. Trass and I focused on our strengths– he did music and programming, I did art and map design — but unfortunately that left a big hole in a vital area: the story. While we had good ideas, we fell short. Luckily another friend of ours, Chaude, stepped in to help tidy up the writing. I felt very unsatisfied with the story I made for Painted Heart, and while I’m glad that quite a few people liked it, I want to make sure to put my all into future works no matter what.
(N): In most indie RPG/RPG Maker titles the battle system is quite simplistic. However, in Painted Heart’s case things are more complicated and can be very challenging. How well do you think the battle mechanics work, what improvements would you make and is that system something you plan on using again in the future?
(A): The battle system was interesting to me since I was mainly an observer from the sides. Trass dealt with all the nuts and bolts of the operation.
Trass (T): I wanted to create a new and innovative battle system that is challenging and makes you think to win rather than grinding levels to win. The idea of switching comes from Pokemon where you needed to switch around to win (mostly referring to the Metagame). I liked it so I wanted to make something with a lot of switching, and that’s how the concept is born. The bizzare element names and relations were also my idea. I wanted the player to learn a completely new and foreign relation system, and thought it’d be too easy if they’re in the form of elements we already know and are used to.
In practice though, it wasn’t accepted very well and lots of people disliked it for how overly complicated the system is. I guess that’s one hard way to learn what works and what doesn’t, but I don’t regret it. If anyone were to tell me to change Painted Heart’s battle system into something else I wouldn’t want to do it. Because currently it’s how I wanted it to be.
We do plan on using it again in the future, adding in some more features and depths into it that weren’t possible to be included in Painted Heart because of the contest’s time and nature. Such as the ability to change and customize your skill set combinations as you like, inflicting status effects, more party members to switch from, and so on. But whether or not such a game will actually be made… we don’t know yet. Currently our focus is on the Myrrh Tree series and I don’t see any of the games in the series using this system.
(N): One of the things I loved about Painted Heart was the concept of Pictomancers. Where and how did the idea come to your mind? Is, in a way, Pictomancy (using your creativity to give life to beautiful images and grow as people) what you’re trying to do with your games?
(A): I had to go back into our chat log to check (what a terrifying month we went through…), and Trass actually is the one who came up with that idea and coined the name. He started with the thought of a boy who summons two drawings he created to defend him. From there, we discussed entering paintings (making sure to make it different from Ib) and restoring color to them. I would say that the concept of Pictomancy is something both of us strive for as creators.
(T): I actually already forgot how we came up with it. We (I and Accha) simply exchanged ideas, throwing in bizzare and ridiculous plots and settings to each other until we stumbled upon one that is actually acceptable.
There was also a time where we wanted to make Cor a cute girl.