What separates the classic cartoons from our RPG? The gameplay of course! For kinesthetic learners, there’s no better example of our gameplay design than by trying it out yourself via our demo, but for those who want to see everything we’ve got planned: read on!

Design

Every aspect of Monochrome’s creation and design is based around five pillars. These pillars are the core of Monochrome upon which the world of Vaudeville is built upon.

Become a Valiant Vaudevillian

Follow along and aid Otto on his heroic journey of a century as he makes decisions, meets new toons, and tries to make it through a few of the longest days of his life!

Black and White, 1920’s-1940’s, Rubber Hose

Everything in the RPG is greyscale and color with heavy nods to American 1920s culture and animation styles. Wherever possible we inject as much tooniness and bendiness as wanted to help add to the game’s personality.

3D characters in a 2D world

Though Monochrome’s character art style is flat, the characters themselves are not. We believe in the x and y axis for art and the z axis as emotional depth.

A Relatable Narrative with Important Messages

Through the use of familiar roleplaying game systems (inventory, party, etc) players will interact with a modern and relatable narrative with solid values:
  • Expression is the best medicine
  • True empathy through true diversity
  • Relationship as multifaceted experiences

Motley-ed Creativity

The Monochrome RPG will be powered by the Monochrome Workshop. A motley group of creatives who are brought together by DVNC to create the assets needed for the game. The Workshop’s goal is to make game development as accessible as possible to as many creatives as possible.
  • Puns == Fun
  • Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder
  • DRY KISS’d Code
  • Music as an Emotional Highway

Build Your Troupe

Monochrome’s specialized world also comes with a specialized fighting system! Otto will take the stage–literally–against enemies, and in these “bouts”, it’s the person with more talent who wins! Where a standard RPG gives the player a “party” consisting of NPCs to aid in fights, the theatrical nature of Monochrome means that Otto leads a troupe instead! As the player progresses further into the game they will be able to entertain actors. Entertained toons will join Otto’s troupe when he has “captured” them via the affinity system. Some especially talented toons can even become his Stars!

Cast

Many people will want to join Otto’s troupe, but only a certain number can come into battles with him, and even fewer members can take the stage! Anyone assigned to join Otto in battle is considered part of his “cast”, which is composed of three types of toons: stars, actors, and (for item-like toons) crew. When battle starts, the Star will be joined by a maximum of three Actors, this specific combination of characters is the cast.

Stars

Stars are characters which take center stage in battle. Stars dictate the actions that the troupe takes in battle. For example, Otto would be considered a Star as he would be in charge of a cast consisting of Actors. New Stars will join the troupe as the story progresses and the player engages in social interactions and impresses key characters.

In battle, stars have four abilities to use as well as a “super” specific to them.

Actors

Characters in your cast that aren’t Stars are considered Actors. Actors aren’t playable characters but help in battle by providing extra options such as attacks or new jokes. They may also provide a passive benefit to the cast. As the player progresses further into the game they will be able to entertain actors to have them join their troupe.

Each actor in a battle has four abilities that they can entertain with, but unlike stars, they cannot use a super.

Crew

While Actors are generally Toon Citizens, Animate Objects can also join you in battle as members of your crew. These generally provide passive buffs to your cast or debuffs to the enemy cast.

As the leader of a troupe, Otto will manage a large number of very talented individuals, and players can have up to four troupes, each with one star and three actors.

Battle

RPGs are well-known for complex fighting mechanics, and Monochrome is no exception. As such, a lot of thought has gone into the elements around bouts!

Pre-battle

While in the overworld and before battles, players can choose which toons in their troupe will make up their cast.

Battle Terminology

Garde
Garde operates like health points. It is lowered by incoming attacks and if an actor’s garde reaches zero the actor must “bow out” and can not participate in the battle any longer.

Affinity
Affinity begins at zero and is raised through the usage of jokes. If affinity is high enough on an enemy combatant, the chances of the player being allowed to capture them is much higher.

Enemy Type
Different toons specialize in the types of moves they use. Enemy type allows the player to strategize the best ways to approach a bout using abilities that are especially effective against the enemy type. Garde and Affinity levels may also affect a certain enemy type’s attacks.

Time Units (TUs)
Time units represent the amount of energy your cast of actors can expend in a single action. Players steadily accumulate time units as real time passes.

Garde and affinity means that enemies have two meters for players to manage: a red one which must be lowered and a green one which must be raised. Abilities in battle will label how they affect affinity and/or garde. Fights end one of two ways: either the enemy loses all their garde, and they are forced to “bow out”, or the player uses “capture” successfully, persuading the enemy to join Otto’s troupe. There is no penalty to forcing enemies to bow out except that the player does not obtain a new troupe member. It is more difficult to capture an enemy, but as a reward, Otto obtains both “performance tokens” which can be spent on items as well as a new ally with different abilities.

Skill Duality

There are three types of skills: battle-only skills, environmental skills, and skills which work both in and out of bouts.

Combat-only

Some skills are only usable in combat, like Otto’s active ability. These are designed exclusively for operations within a battle context, usually simply differing values of lowering or raising garde for enemies and allies.

Dual-use skills

There are abilities, such as being able to deliver jokes to positively influence a relationship with an NPC or smooth talk your way into new opportunities, that can be used in overworld dialogue as well as in battles.

Otto may be able to deliver a Distracting Gag, helping him avoid an enemy in the overworld, but delaying oncoming attacks in a battlefield. Otto might be able to Hype Up in battle to lower the time unit cost of abilities, but in the overworld this will help him run a little faster. Otto’s Graceful Exit might be able to get him out of a battle he doesn’t want to be in anymore, but when he’s up to his waist in danger in some far-off speakeasy, Graceful Exit can provide a swift escape back to the outside world.

Environmental-only

Outside of battle, some abilities physically alter the environment. Otto may have an ability to push certain types of boxes around, or leap over certain small gaps. These open up Otto’s world as he learns more skills, but are only usable in the overworld.

Item Types

In the world of Monochrome RPG, Otto can discover and use a multitude of items to help him on his journey! The main types of inventory items are Battle-based items, such as Healing items, Affinity gifts, and Stat Boosters. Along with this, Otto can find and utilize Relationship Gifts, Performance Tokens, and Unlockables!

Battle Items

During Otto’s travels, he may encounter enemies ready for a fight! To increase his odds in battle, Otto can use Battle-based items to do more damage and affect enemy moves. The types of Battle-based include healing, stat, and affinity items.

Healing Items

Healing Items in the RPG replenish Otto’s health during and after battles. They come in the form of “punny” consumables.

Some healing items only heal a small portion of Otto’s health, and others can restore his health completely.

Healing Items range in potency. Items restore health in a range of 10, 20, 30, 50, and 100 points. In addition to this, some items restore a portion of Otto’s health, but may harm troupe members.

Example Healing Items include:
  • Yum Fruit
  • Mint Tulip
  • Mushy Melon
  • Jiffy Jello

Stat Boosters

Stat Boosters increase the attributes of certain troupe members and jokes during battles. Otto can pick them up around the world of Monochrome RPG and use them during any battle. They can influence the way Otto executes jokes, increase the amount of hits troupe members can inflict on enemies, and how much damage Otto takes. Stat Boosters can be temporary or permanent.

Similar to Healing Items, Stat Boosters have a range of potency. Stat Boosters can influence troupe members for 1-3 turns in battle, and some can double or triple troupe member damage.

Example Stat Boosters include:
  • Ginny Juice
  • Pep Pills
  • Giggle Root
  • Dazzle Berry

Affinity Items

Affinity Items are items that Otto can use during battle to increase the effectiveness of his moves.

Affinity Items influence a character’s relationship with Otto, making it more likely they’ll lose a battle and increasing Otto’s chance to successfully capture the enemy for his troupe.

Affinity Items are only temporary and range in potency.

Example Affinity Items include:
  • Dream Stick
  • Midnight Oil
  • Foot Fly Pie
  • Pack of Ciggies

Relationship Items

Relationship gifts are items that Otto can give to other characters in Monochrome RPG to boost their relationship with him. The RPG has a large social ladder, determining how non-player characters and Otto are treated throughout the world. To improve his rating, Otto can collect Relationship Gifts for characters, which changes the way that they perceive and talk to him. By boosting his relationship level, Otto can uncover new secrets and areas in the game.

Examples of Relationship Items:
  • Parasol
  • Frog Doll
  • Tin Knuckles
  • Scrimshaw

Unlockables

In Monochrome RPG, Unlockables describe certain items that have hidden features. These items tend to have extra actions that reveal their secrets. Some examples of hidden attributes that Unlockables reveal include new areas, narrative points, and even concealed characters.

Examples of Unlockables:
  • Broken Record
  • Wanted Poster
  • Mole-dy Cheese
  • Golden Totem

Keys

Every locked door has a solution, and in this case, Keys! Hidden around the world of Monochrome RPG are Keys. Keys unlock certain areas inside smaller locations, revealing hidden secrets and loot for Otto to find.

An example of a Key in the RPG is the Farmer’s Basement Key. In Greyshade valley, a grumpy farmer resides. His house may be small, but a tiny hatch in the kitchen shows that there’s more than meets the eye. Find the Farmer’s Basement Key to uncover what lies below!

Come taste a sample of these gameplay elements in our demo!