From the Community: What’s it like being a Game Dev for Monochrome Workshop?

Introduction

Math the bane of so many. Technology this weird industry humans invented that has now taken over our lives. Combine these plus a lot of research, sweat, tears, and arcane magic and you have Programming. One of my favorite skills that can also bring a lot of stress. 

Hi, my name is Vince. I’m a hobbyist dancer, poet, and gamer, but more importantly, I’m the Lead Programmer for the Monochrome RPG, one of the programmers who’ll be adding functionality to the game. 

You Actually Like Programming?

Nope don’t like it one bit… 🤣

I’m head over heels in love with it. Programming for me has been like learning magic 🔮 I believe that programming gives one the ability to find and seize opportunity. Learning to program really taught me how to solve problems (or at least how to google). As well as how to keep trying until you’ve pushed past your limits to solve the problem.

I’ve also become the current Community Manager for the Monochrome Workshop. A Programmer as a Community Manager? Yep, the Workshop is different!

As the Community Manager, I’ll be responsible for providing progress and overview blog posts to help keep you informed on the Workshop and development of the game.

Tell us about the RPG already!!!

Alright! Here’s how I see the RPG:

(Relatable Story + Symbolistic Battles + 1920s Cartoons) * ContributorsPassion = Monochrome RPG

Breaking that down…

Story

The story for Monochrome follows the character, Otto an isolated citizen of Vaudeville, as they travel through their hometown to rescue the entertainment-focused culture from the suppression of the Bleak Barons. The sinister Bleak Barons have begun to transform the culture Otto was conflicted about into something so dark and sinister Otto can’t standby and watch.

Otto, as a character, is meant to relate to us.

By us, I mean those that have ever felt outcast because of their differences. Otto knows what it’s like to be teased, made fun of, and even called useless and hopeless. Though Otto may be cute (let’s be real, adorable), Otto isn’t immature.

See in Vaudeville every citizen tries their best to keep society abroad happy. Joking, dancing, singing, all to make others smile. Sounds perfect? Nope, far from it as each citizen sacrifices their personal happiness to make others happy.

Otto being different (what’s up with the hooded overcoat) causes Otto to be the target of public ridicule up to the point where Otto must move to an island outside of Vaudeville. Otto moves into a house full of alive, but oddly rude furniture due to the cheap rent (at the cost of Otto’s sanity).

Otto stays on the island the majority of the time until Otto starts hearing about strange events happening in Vaudeville. Oddly enough, each of these events seems to have the name Bleak Barons involved somehow. Otto’s few friends start getting dragged into weirdly, dangerous situations. Otto can’t simply sit happy-ish and isolated on the island while Otto’s friends are in danger.

Battles

In the Monochrome RPG battles are iconic because Otto doesn’t only have the option to defeat enemies, but can also run from them and entertain them. 

When Otto entertains an enemy, they grow to like Otto so much they join Otto’s group and help out in future battles. Bosses, for the most part, won’t be entertainable, but I think that the choice of being able to entertain versus hurt enemies helps to emphasize the narrative components of the game.

As Otto grows the group, getting more “friends,” Otto’s able to take on bigger, stronger enemies and handle situations differently.

1920s Styled Cartoons

The overall art style helps to bring together the story and battle by allowing for a range of situations to be symbolized through living plants, animals, and furniture. When the Workshop designs elements for the game, we are taking a holistic view.

Through our community-based process, we make sure that visual assets symbolize the ideology we want behind the piece (funny, sad, serious, etc.). As a community, we also consider how the imagery may influence the intended impact of the story.

The fact that the style allows for quick iteration and completion compared to colored assets helps to keep us on track timeline-wise. We also chose this style as it allows for a range of creatives to contribute to the project without worrying about the project taking up too much time. 

ContributorsPassion

The most unique part about this project is that it won’t be made by a specific development team. My company, DVNC Tech, will be gluing all the pieces together. However, we won’t be creating individual assets. Instead, we’ll be working with the members of the Monochrome Workshop. 

Members of the Workshop will contribute to art, designs, and more towards the project. This turns the Monochrome RPG into a sort of experiential museum that will showcase perspectives from a diverse group of people. 

I personally love being able to work with a group of talented artists. The Workshop’s Discord has been growing steadily, and with each new member, we start to see more engagement and interaction with the project. In the first week since asking artists to join the project, I’ve seen some amazing pieces of art. As a programmer, seeing art such as this inspires me to sincerely give 1,000,000% of my passion towards the project.

I’ve also been reminded of how awesome it can be to be in a group of people working towards a common goal. Not only do you meet new people and have awesome super nerdy talks. You’re able to sincerely connect with people and form friendships that can last more than a lifetime!

The Workshop is always looking for members to help with Art, Animation, Design, and soon Music. We’re super proud of the game we’re attempting to make and want as many people to help as possible whether that’s through suggesting ideas or contributing assets!

How and why are you excited about the RPG?

I’ve been excited about the game since I was first told about the project. 

The Ideology

Growing up, my dad was in the Army. He was consistently deployed in the Middle East throughout the mid-90s to the early 2000s. This led to me growing up not liking shooting games (especially as they got more realistic) and loving fantasy/role-playing games. Pokemon was and still is my jam!

Watching this game take shape makes me how much it’s a project I wanted, potentially needed, as a kid but didn’t have. Sure Otto has the option to fight opponents and sometimes may have to as is life, but at the end of the day, Otto must choose between hurting someone or making them laugh, to try and change their perspective. 

The Community

Once we decided to open development to all those interested, I was ecstatic. Coming from the Southern part of the US, I know how difficult it can be to find opportunities to work on a game such as this.

What’s been the best part of working with the Workshop?

Since starting on the project, I feel like I’ve greatly improved as a creator. I’ve found time to just create, and having a community that relies on me helps to focus my programming. The community has also been fantastic with the conversations between artists, designers, and programmers.

Brian has been excellent in balancing listening to the members of the Workshop while making sure our momentum doesn’t slow down. As a young CEO, this has also been an excellent opportunity to learn various business skills that will undoubtedly help in the future.

What are you working on next for the RPG?

In the coming week or so I’ll begin updating the Monochrome battle system to make it more engaging for players.

When we took the game to GEXCon, a gaming convention, and had people test the game, many found the battle system to be dull and lackluster. 

The current battle system focuses on healing and damaging the opponent in an attempt to entertain them or knock them out. Testers as a whole liked this system. However, they didn’t like that the input for the different battle moves was similar to Pokemon in style. The player clicks a button and then animations plus a calculation happen to update the progress of the battle.

Testers said that they would like battles more if the overall system included more interactions. Meaning when Otto tells a joke instead of hitting a button and then reading the joke the player would be allowed to pick the punchline. Different punchlines would have different effects on the enemy. 

We’ve thought of a few other interactions and moves similar to this, and I can’t wait to start implementing them!

Related Articles

Monochrome RPG Demo v0.0.1a Now Available!

The Monochrome Workshop has been hard at work designing, programming, and arting more content for the Demo of the Monochrome RPG. Having tested the Demo over Summer at GEXCon the team has been focused on adding more structured content as well as opening up the creation of the project through a Discord Server and new website!

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