Star Story


(Posted 10 months ago) tricky

Star Story

Star Story is not really "new", but it has been designed with LAURA II, which is in turned coded in BlitzMax, using the GALE engine for Lua scripting, and Kthura for the Map engine.

Star Story is a science-fiction RPG game, where a strong story and also a bit of parody to famous science fiction franchises (most notably Star Trek and Star Wars) come together. On the screenshot above we can see Wendicka, the main protagonist after she crashed her space pod on a strange alien planet.

The story starts in a prologue when Wendicka Lovejoy (the main protagonist. A girl who can't eat or drink or touch water, but feeds on electricity) and her surrogate sister Crystal McLeen, two space cadets in training, have their first mission with Lt. Sean Briggs in the Yaqirpa (a kind of church for an alien religion). The mission goes wrong, and Crystal would have gotten herself killed if a mysterious person didn't steal her body from sickbay putting cybernetic implants into it, turning Crystal into a cyborg and saving her life in the process. One year passes and not a single trace was ever found of the person who turned Crystal into a cyborg. Wendicka and Crystal were both so shocked about that incident that they gave up being space cadets. Wendicka became a mechanic for Excalibur (the space station that is also the girls' home), and Crystal became a barmaid in a pub in the same station. All went well until a cyborg invasion forces the girls to flee, protected by the android ExHuRU (Experimental Human Replica Unit), crashing on a strange planet (see screenshot). From here a plot will start leading to great dangers. Who is behind the attack on Excalibur? Why is it that Wendicka cannot eat/drink/wash and must feed on electricity? Who turned Crystal into a cyborg?

click here to find the game on Game Jolt click here for the Lua scripts LAURA II uses to run this game (and if you find any bugs, you can also report them there).

=== Technobabble about the game's development:

  • This was the first game to use the LAURA II engine and also the first to use the Kthura map engine. Due to this a lot of work had to be done before I could actually start on the game itself.
  • When you play this game, you may notice that I was actually a bit experimenting how to get the best out of Kthura myself. The screenshot above is in standstill (unfortunately), but in the game itself all the grass objects wave around in different speed indenpendently, and so this was one of the first dungeons in which I could put Kthura's advantages over a tile based engine to the test.
  • The "wave" effect on the grass was actually pre-rendered with a tool I quickly wrote in BlitzMax too and put into an animation. I chose this road in order not to slow the game down as real-time rendering would have done that inevitably.
  • The game uses a launcher which starts the LAURA II engine as soon as a new game or an existing save game has been picked. I chose this road to make sure no data from previous game sessions could linger in the memory after a Game Over sequence. That launcher was created in BlitzMax with MaxGUI although it gets its data from JCR6. This gave me also the possibility to do the nice intro text scroll in the launcher at full speed, as I was not sure I could get it this fast in Lua.
  • The scenario text can be displayed in both English and Dutch. In order to do the bilingual scenario quickly I set up a quick tool named ScenLang, originally in BlitzMax, but later translated to C# (using GTK sharp). I just had two textboxes next to each other. One for English and one for Dutch. Technically any language using the Roman alphabet could be used to add a translation of the scenario text. I need to note that system messages and tutorials remain in English even when you play the game in Dutch.
  • The voice of Wendicka's old man, which you hear when you start a new game is my voice. I hope my pronunciation of the English language is acceptable, since my native language is Dutch. :)
  • A lot of people asked me why you cannot change difficulty settings after you've chosen them when starting a new game. That is because the differences between the settings are not just more or less aggressive monsters in combat. Inventory space is bigger in the easy mode, for starters. Monsters can grant more experience points in the easier modes, and the number of monsters in the hard mode is significantly higher and even some puzzles in the game are affected by this. As well as buying and selling prices at merchants and loads of other stuff. It's easy to imagine that the changes between the three modes are simply too big. The easy mode is for those you need to learn how to play an RPG game. The hard mode is for people without a life and who love total frustration. And the normal mode is for the casual gamer (and also the difficulty on which the game was originally intended to be).
  • This game has been set up for more combat style gaming than normal for RPGs. This was a little experiment of mine. If you do not take that in good order, you may not like the game at first. It does require a different approach in things.
  • I shall be honest on 1 thing. I did only a part of the assets myself. This was not something I wanted to do, but something I had to do, or the game would never get finished, even after years of effort. This entire game was a one-man show... I had no direct help from anybody, except for an alpha tester who helped me making sure all bugs were found and fixed. So some graphics were taken from the public domain and some music came from the Creative Commons. For the character portraits I used concept art my ex-girl friend made me when this game was still in concept stage (Wendicka, ExHuRU, Sue, Rolf, Crystal) and I did most of the others myself. In-game sprites are for the story characters most of all my work. The graphics I did not create are some of the monsters and some map graphics that do not have too much importance to the story. At least I can say that most of the map graphics used to create the girl's appartment (the furniture in the living room was basically the furniture I had in my real house), Eugorvnia, the Astrilopip facility all by myself. A full list of 3rd party stuff can be found in my github repository. I wanted to do all graphics, but I had to be realistic.
  • Wendicka is exactly 1000 years younger than me, and the flag above her bed is the flag of the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant (where I am from). That is because Wendicka is partially a parody of my 25-years old self. I used a girl for this to create a certain distance as Wendicka is not me, and I am not Wendicka. But some qualities and flaws Wendicka shows in the game are inspired by my own. Crystal's signature quote "Wendicka, don't be so rude!" may indicate I do not have such a high opinion about my own behavior of back then (I was 43 when I wrote this forum post).
  • I am also a fantasy novel writer and creator of the world of Phantasar. My Fairy Tale REVAMPED (which I showed in my Kthura post) takes place on this world. Although pretty well hidden, Wendicka and her friends can visit Phantasar in the game, and there are some interesting sidequests there. Now the Elf Rosetta can cast a spell on you making you understand the Phantasar language, but before you speak to her, all people in Phantasar will speak a language you probably don't understand. What they speak are not just strange character dumped together. It's an actual language with its own vocabulary, spelling and grammar rules. A few things went wrong in putting that language in the textboxes, though, so some extra reviews will be required. Irravonia (the girl with the two large piggy tails in the village of Frendor) says "Yo! Ty bâ dâ Îrâvônyâ! Wîk bâ tü?" which roughly translates into "Yo! I'm Irravonia! Who are you?" -- Also note that Irravonia is one of the playable character in The Secrets of Dyrt game, which also takes place on Phantasar, and a lot of the cast of that game can be found in Star Story, if you ever manage to find Phantasar that is.
  • I went for a strong story, but I did parody, famous science fiction stories, politics, myself, populism and a few other things. Many titles of the achievements you can get in the game refer to space travel or famous science fiction quotes.
  • I shall reveal one Easter Egg. Somewhere in the game I had a graveyard where each gravestone contains a first name plus a famous quote. These all refer to Star Trek and Star Wars actors who had already passed away for real on the game's initial release date. I did not really mean to make fun of them. I only believed this to be a fitting way to keep their memory.
  • I took almost one full year to create the game.
(Posted 9 months ago) RonTek commented:

Cool stuff you got there Tricky!

btw, have you also tried pixel art for your images before?

(Posted 9 months ago) tricky commented:

Back then I was "learning" the trade when it comes to pixel art. I did pixel art before back in the DOS era, and back then I used DeluxePaint (originally a drawing program for the AMIGA, but they also ported it to DOS), and sometimes I still use it (the only bummer is that limits me to 256 colors, as the hardware of the time didn't support any better)... having to convert LBM or PCX to PNG is not that hard. :) These days I use PikoPixel, which is a very simplistic (and therefore very good) program for PixelArt. Downside is... it's only for Mac. I am looking for a good alternative for Windows, but I found none (AseSprite is often named, but a) that is not free like PikoPixel is. They ditched the original GPL and b) AseSprite adds a lot of features that only get in my way).

Truth is that I have always worked with pixel art, as I believe this to be the best way to create art for games in general. Especially when you want to produce a bit of a retro-style (which was one of my focus points in Star Story). I've never really been a master in it, but at least I could produce something acceptable... I think? ;)

(Posted 9 months ago) RonTek commented:

Cool beans. Yes, you could try pixel art for your games as I thought it would fit better and make it more refined. The tools and methods now are now much easier to find and use compared back then.

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