A downloadable game for Windows

This project is still a WIP, but is currently on hold while I do other things. It's not dead by any means, but updates will, for the foreseeable future, be few and far between. I'm sorry for that.

A wild Aria appears!

Aria uses Wall of Text!

It's not very effective...

Before I throw a Charles Dickens novel at you, though, I'd like to clarify a remark made much later: I AM interested in feedback. I'm a published writer, so I'm very much used to negative critiques. I'd rather people not be dicks about it, but I'm open to suggestions and criticism.

I know what you're thinking. Trust me--I've thought the same thing. "Another RPG Maker piece of shit." And yeah, probably. But there is one thing that, I hope, sets this game apart.

See, I don't like the direction RPGs are going. There's very, very little role-playing in the average "RPG", and, when games do bother to include spectacular role-playing elements (as Dragon Age 2 dared to do), the game is generally disliked because people expected another adventure game, not a real RPG.

For some reason, "RPG" has come to mean a game that reduces a character into a series of stats--Hit Points, Strength, Weapon skill... But these are simply the mechanics of standard RPG combat. They don't make a game an RPG. And as much as I loved Skyrim, I have to say... it's not an RPG. There's no role-playing in Skyrim. In fact, the role-playing is so bare that Bethesda didn't include even the option to refuse joining the Nightingales in the Thieves' Guild quest!

I think we've gotten far, far away from what makes a role-playing game a role-playing game. We identify them in terms of numbers, stat distributions, and combat mechanics--and this is only one aspect of overall gameplay. This has caused the other aspects of gameplay to be ignored and dropped entirely. As flawed as Dragon Age 2 was as an Adventure game, it was a phenomenal role-playing game--and it's not very well-liked among gamers.

I'm a writer and a musician. As much as I hate it, I am terrible with doing anything graphical and always have been. I can draw reasonably well with a pencil, but that's really it. I wish I could do more in regard to graphics, but resizing things is about the best I can manage. If anyone out there wants to work with me in making the graphics original, you'll receive full credit.

It's worth noting that there will NEVER be a price fixed to this. This is a product of love and entertainment; I made it for me, to entertain myself. If other people are entertained, great--I want them to be, and I'll work with people to make it more entertaining, so long as doing so wouldn't make it less entertaining to me (since, not to be arrogant or anything, MY tastes are the ones I built the game around). I doubt I could sell it anyway.

As I said, I'm a writer. I've actually just submitted a 400,000 word novel to an editor, and this game is set in the same Fantasy world--sort of. It's got a lot of overlapping elements, but things and characters have been substantially modified to be more video game friendly. Note--400,000 words is about the length of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and that's just one manuscript, so yeah... this description is going to rack up the word count by the time I'm done, too. But my point in all this is that it can be seen as sort of a companion to this hopefully-soon-to-be-published manuscript, complementing it in an Alternative Universe/What-if kind of way, rather than being a true sister product.

I'm currently toying with the idea of modifying the game to include a player-created protagonist. At the moment, the role-playing is determined largely by which characters you allow to speak. The Tainted Element has 12 characters, all with their own quirks and personalities (they're modified characters from my manuscript after all, but, again, made more video game friendly), and the idea is that the player can choose (once all 12 characters are in the same place at the same time) the 4 that they like best.

Dialogue options in this game are robust--extremely robust. Every NPC consists of multiple pages, though the game is FAR from finished and hasn't even gotten to the "meat" yet. This is still the pre-meal salad at this point, so don't get me wrong. 85% of the game creation is still ahead of me, but it's basically just "more along these lines until it's finished." This is because the game keeps track of which characters you choose to speak the most, and because most NPCs give you the option to say something back. Rather than choosing a nice, mean, snarky, wise, naive response, or whatever, you choose to let Drusilia, Leraneon, Derevius, Shadow, or Katillus speak. Sometimes, dialogue choices are "automatic," and that's why the game keeps track of it. It would get tedious very quickly if you had to choose someone to reply EVERY single time an NPC said something. For this reason, the Tainted Element tracks your preferences; if you prefer Shadow, don't be surprised when Shadow begins talking a lot without you having selected anything.

What all uses this will be put to I haven't yet decided, but I think it's likely that I will extend this beyond dialogue and include some special content that impacts the plot based on which character/attitude is preferred. I know that if Leraneon manages to become the "most selected" character, then the ending will be different because Leraneon will join the Empire. That's what I mean--that sort of thing. And obviously if a player repeatedly chooses Leraneon, then they wouldn't want to lose him permanently, so after a boss fight against the former Player Character, he'll rejoin the party.

I have no beta testers, and I've done as much alpha testing of these first 2-3 hours of gameplay as I feel anyone should reasonably do. That said, there will undoubtedly be bugs, typos, mistakes, and stuff. And it may very well just suck. The opening with Coreal and Jonathon is kinda slow, and I am in the process of trying to do something to fix that. I'm just not sure what yet. The game currently lasts between 1.5 and 4 hours, depending on how well you know where everything is, but this only gets you to the very beginning of Chapter 4. The game isn't actually divided into chapters; that's just behind the scenes to help me keep track of things.

There is custom music. I am a rock musician, and I've found myself way out of my league when trying to make town music and stuff like that. A lot of the music I've written for it hasn't been used yet, and I'm far from exhausted on the original music. If I could write the "happier" music for towns and shit, then I wouldn't use any stock music. And god knows I don't want to use any stock music, so I haven't exactly given up on that. I want to keep all the music along that same B minor motif, too, and I can't do that with the stock music.

If you read all this, thank you. I truly appreciate that you took the time to read me ramble about my stupid shitty game for 9 years. I started this in 2012, and have only worked on it for about 100 hours in the past year, but there are probably about 600 hours in the game as it is, and much more if music composition is included. I think the game features some things you don't normally see in RPG Maker games, like a rock pushing puzzle that I'm rather proud of, but I think the music and the focus on role-playing will be what ultimately sets this apart. If it isn't horrible. And you may very well find it horrible. If you do, then I apologize for unleashing this upon the world. I don't think it sucks, but, as I said, I made it based on my tastes, and my tastes may very well suck. (I did love Dragon Age 2, after all...)

On the topic of battles, the game was original going to include a Job System, but I found I had to choose between that and 12 characters. if you could turn any character into a Holy Paladin, then what was the point of Jonathon as a character? If you could turn any character into a Sorcerer, then what was the point of Leraneon as a character? Remnants of the Job System still remain, because I haven't removed them yet. They're just kinda there. Ignore them for now. The Skill Purchase system is staying, because I rather like it.

The Tainted Element is also meant to be hard as shit, combining tactics and strategy against monsters that CAN actually kill you. There are no resurrection items in the game; the only way to revive a character is with Shadow's Necromancy magic (which isn't even true resurrection) or by doing a quest for a priest. These quests don't exist yet, so... save often, and reload if someone dies, because they're not coming back--by design. RPGs are way, way too easy, and they only get easier as the game progresses, unlike every other gaming genre out there.

Is it worth it to take those hits with Jonathon while using the Attack command? Or is it better to use the ability Honor first, to increase his defense and open up the Honor abilities, like Salute Attack, that do more damage but can only be used when Jonathon is in the Honorable state? For that intense battle, is it better to have Derevius alive and well, or to have him use For the Queen to kill himself so that Queen Shadow can resurrect him as a Death Knight, increasing his stats but reducing player control over him and limiting what abilities he can use? Should you guard this turn? Is the monster going to Dual Attack or cast a spell? Or do you need to put him to Sleep before he can use that Potion he uses every 3 turns? Which characters should you take with you, in addition to your favorite(s)?

Options. That's what I'm trying to do here. I'm trying to give players options so that they can craft their own experience in a setting that hopefully captures their imagination.

Oh yeah--how you like that battle music? That's actually an old song called "Weeping As the World Dies," but it fit so well...

Credits

Yanfly, whose scripts I am using with permission--and have modified fairly extensively.

Victor, ditto.

Fomar0153

As pointed out, these scripts are generally heavily modified, and were used as a basis for my own work, rather than plugged-and-played. I have no issue scripting--see the Geomancer Class and the Undead Cures Script. There's just no sense reinventing the wheel in the majority of these cases, particularly with Yanfly's spectacular battle engine--again, which you can see has been extensively modified to do what I want it to do.

Upon further evaluation of things, I don't like that there are places to upload screenshots and shit, but nowhere to upload music previews. The music is a large part of this project.

(I've already fixed the above crash, the result of an event left over from years ago, before I set the character system in stone

This last video highlights the main design focus of the game: letting subtle player actions shape the experience. The differences between the 2 minute clips are so subtle that players will have no idea something has even changed. That is EXACTLY the goal--to let players craft the experience of their choosing, delivering a hopefully organic and seamless ROLE-PLAYING game.

Install instructions

RTP is included, so just install it and play it.

For the time being, download Patch 0.2.0.1 and unzip it to the same directory, and choose to overwrite. I'll upload a more recent version of the EXE soon so that patching isn't necessary.

These instructions don't seem to work for some reason. joescafe in the comments has been kind enough to provide instructions, so thank you, joescafe. This weekend I'll be able to reinstall RPGMaker VX Ace and fix the main executable so that patching isn't necessary.

Download

Download
Patch 0.2.0.1.exe (42 MB)
Download
The Tainted Element.exe (231 MB)

Comments

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For what it is worth, I've enjoyed this game thus far. This game is hard, but possible. I did feel compelled to replace the included copy of Distributed's, "Down with the Sickness" with another MP3. The original music is quite well done.

To play, you must setup the patch 2.0.1 correctly. I had to "install" it to a separate location, then copy all of those file to the Tainted Element directory. The "patched" game.ini file had a line which didn't allow me to run the game, so I just removed "RTP=RPGVXAce" from the start of that ini and everything worked after that. You know it is working if you start with an assassination in a temple instead of calmly walking around a town.

Thanks for putting this together for us to enjoy!

Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I intended to remove the Disturbed song, but guess I never did. This project got pushed pretty far back due to some videos, podcasts, and other stuff I've taken it, but it remains something I intend to fix and finish. Thank you for your patience. :)

Hey, your game is pretty cool, but I hit a bug early on where right after the dialogue between the main character and some elf trying to sell its body, the game won't let me move. Should I reinstall or is there something else wrong?

Don't reinstall yet. Let me take a look and see what's going on. It's surely an issue with the event. I'll trace it down and upload a modified version. I haven't added much lately, so you're practically at the end of where I've reached as it is, but it's been an unusually busy two weeks. Sorry for not moving forward quickly.

I've added a small patch above that should fix the issue. Looks like it had to do with where the NPC was trying to move to. Just extract the files to the same directory as you initially installed to, and choose to overwrite. I'll upload a more recent version of the core game so that patching isn't necessary soon, but I need to finish that section with Drusilia first. Will be this week, if you want to just wait for a more substantial update. Most likely Saturday.

Oh okay, awesome, thanks! I'll probably get both updates, just because things like that are interesting to me, and your game looks kinda amazing :3 I'm really into storytelling, so I can't wait to see what you've got planned next.

(Edited 1 time)

I am currently snagged with a complex event, but that's good. I like complex events, and they're only going to get more complex as things continue, especially since the hand-holding part is nearly over. There were initially five of these "starting areas" planned, but I've dropped the fifth one because I felt like it was just too much, like by that point players would be like "Are we ever going to get past the intro?!"

Thanks for the input. Hopefully I can deliver. :D