Initially when I began work on the Grave Prosperity project I was only looking to make a fun little game the RM communities could enjoy. Nothing outstanding, just slightly unique from the adverage RM made game. But over time I became more and more ambitious with my work and now the game has taken on an entirely new look and it has its own site dedicated to it and is becoming known by more than just the RM communities. It's sort of funny to me that the crowd I was originally wanting to appeal to is now the crowd that least worries me. Now my aim is geared more toward the general public.
My current goal for the project is within reach at this point. I have taken an engine and pushed it well beyond the limits of what it is meant to do and managed to lose no quality while doing so. All that reamins to be done now is just complete the game and then sit back and watch the results.
When I said my goal is within reach, I really meant it is just months away. In October part 1 is schedualed for release, and for each following month another part is planned to be released. So literally within 5 months all of volume 1 will be available to play. I am very excited for each launch and I am expecting a very positive response from the indie crowd. We may not be recieving the next Resident Evil here, but it most definitely won't be another indie space shooter or platformer. I hope everyone who plays will be able to appreciate the unique nature of the game for what it is, and what it was made with.

    So far part one is complete and simply awaiting its schedualed launch. For this first piece of the game there won't be as much action as some of the others, but it will still be able to give the player an idea of what to expect for the future parts. Some may even be left scratching their head by the end of part 1 and that is expected, the story will not be completely unfolded until the end of part 3.
Parts 2-4 are going to be fun because of their added features and increase in story telling. There will be interactive cinematic action where the player will be forced to button mash just to maintain the character's sanity while being possessed by malevolent spirits. There will be optional stealth mini games and interrigations. GP still has a nice pocket full of supprises waiting for each of its future releases.

    I have been tossing around the idea for a potential spin off for one of the characters you will run into who is meant to become a very important player in the sequel. This particular character's game will be set in an entirely different timeline and will feature a 100% unique story and gameplay. The idea is there but there are still some things to take into consideration before making it happen. One thing is for certain though, it will be done on a 3D platform.
Our voice actors/actresses who have signed on have also signed for future work for future releases, so the characters you meet in this first release will be the characters you play with to the end of the games.

    All of these things I have mentioned for the current version on the RMXP engine is great, but I still have so much more planned for the future. When we can get a 3D release up and going (likely the sequel) there will be so much more room for innovation. As far as basic features go, I do have a small blue print made up. Game play can be optionally played in 3rd person or 1st person, the player will be able to make use of cover and shadows to evade enemies, the environment will be 100% interactable so even if there is no current cover, through improvision cover can be made. Even the ability to dismember enemies and use body parts as distractions will be available. If you want to sneak past a tougher monster, try getting the drop on it and shoot out its eyes? The ability to handicap your enemies will be there, but beware, for every sense lost, another will grow stronger. These are more of the stealth approaches, but as far as solid action is concearned, there will be a very indepth dodging and counter attacking system that will enable the player to jump right into the middle of a room full of monsters and test their combative skills. Shooting will be able to be done either over the shoulder or in first person. The Black Serum feature that will be introduced in part 4 of volume 1 will be greatly enhanced and enable all sorts of extra abilities to the player (Sorry, so spoilers). There will be so many possibilities it is just crazy. But for now, this realease we are working on right now is simply a proof of product for the future. If all this can be done with an RPG Maker, imagine what we could do with a professional grade software..
 
 
The horror genre in video games seems to be a slowly dying concept. It seems that just about every survival horror type out there is just about the same game only being played through another universe. A dark atmosphere, very bland combat, the occasional startle point and a whole bunch of puzzles. Not that I don't enjoy these kinds of games, but after playing so many of them I got to thinking "what if". That is when Grave Prosperity first came to mind.
Growing up I got to see games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill make their first breakthroughs into the gaming market, and eventually, into my heart. Their method of story telling through random documents that could be found scattered throughout the world and the sketchy townsfolk you would inevitably run into was nothing short of amazing to me. The games almost insisted that you became deeply involved in the story. They weren't so much like playing a game to me as they were like interacting with a movie, which in my eyes was the coolest thing ever at the time. The characters actually had emotion and personality, something I had never seen before. By these simple concepts I was easily influenced and inspired to eventually create my very own unique addition to the genre, which would soon become known as Grave Prosperity.

The game itself has gone through so many changes in size and quality that some of the changes became undoable. Like the way Volume 1 in its entirety is portioned out into 4 separate parts. The innitial reasoning behind this was because the game would have been well over a few gigabytes the way it was first being designed. And the crowd I was trying to appeal to was the RPG Maker [RM] community (which would NEVER find another RM made game over 1GB acceptable), simply because that was the engine type I was using for the game. Of course, since its initial release we have found ways to lower file size and actually manage to get all of Volume 1 complete in under 1GB. Unfortunately, it wasn't discovered how to do this by us until part 3 was under way. So it was a bit too late to turn back and place all three parts into one game. It's been a good long 2 years that Grave Prosperity has been under development. It's had many different story changes as well as visual and mechanical changes (upgrades). In short, Grave Prosperity [GP] has come a long way.

    Speaking of graphic changes, GP has had 8 visual overhauls since it's first (video game) concept on RPG Maker XP 2 years ago; 6 of which were actually released on the net through the RM communities. Before any of that started happening, GP was simply a fit of boredom (one of many of its kind) while pulling overnight security. Imagine having to sit in a car in a remote location and stare into a whole bunch of dark nothing for up to (and sometimes exceeding) 12 hours. Yeah, I had to get pretty creative in order to keep my time occupied.

    Once I completed the story I found that it had grown on me and became something more than just a time consumer. I actually liked what I had written and kind of wanted to see it come a bit further. That's when I started drawing up character concepts for a comic book version. I already had many different concepts for all sorts of different characters drawn up for earlier RM engines I was working with at the time, which is where Amber's first image came from. Remember the first two Parasite Eve games on the PS1? Maybe some of you do. Amber's original concept was based off a spin off from those games I had started on an earlier version of the RPG Maker, but after finishing the GP story I decided to set aside all my side work and compile everything into that one project.
Over time drawing the characters either by pencil and pen, or by pixil seemed to be a bit of a dated method. So I turned to 3D art. Granted, I never had any kind of schooling or even training of any kind in the field, but I really wanted to see this project come to life in a way I never tried before. So after Googleing 3D softwares I came across a freeware called DAZ Studio. It's simple interface made it the perfect starter software for me to break into the 3D field. I didn't even have to model my figures from scratch. It came with a base human form that you could make a seemingly endless number of alterations to in order to create your very own unique 3D person. Cloths were a synch since there were venders everywhere that would sell the ones they made right there on the site. It was too easy. After about a year of using that I discovered a cousin program to DAZ which would end up being the permanant home to all of GP's creation: Carrara. Through trial and error I slowly sharpened my designs and animation until I was satisfied enough to make my first release of Grave Prosperity on the RPG Maker XP.

    Let's just say it was nothing glamorous, and it was not the big hit I was hoping it would be right off the bat. If you can imagine a small 3D model with 4 frames of walking animation over a bunch of pixilated backdrops then you may get the idea. It wasn't pretty, and it took some time until I finally was able to start using 3D models for the backdrops that would blend more appropriately with the 3D characters.

    Of course the characters and backdrops aren't the only things that went through some serious changes. The menu and combat system has had a lot of attention as well. The original menu was much like you would have found while playing an old Turok game from the Nintendo 64. It was a weapons wheel. But that idea soon faded and I went with more of an up to date style like the one used in Resitent Evil 4. In this new (and current) system the player could pause the game and dig around an entire inventory that would have everything from items held, to experience points gained, to the levels of each of your character's attributes. As cool as that new addition was, there was still something missing. I wanted fluidity for the gamers who didn't like having to stop the action just so they could change weapons. So I added in a weapons quick change button that could be used right in the middle of the game while you're exploring around, or even in combat.

    Notice, the mention of experience points came up earlier. I know most people are thinking, "Experience points? In a survival horror game?? How would that work?!" It actually turned out to work pretty well. After the latest Deus Ex came out on the PS3 I was very intrigued by it's EXP and upgrade system. So much so that I decided I wanted something similar in my project. That's when things started to get interesting. I had to increase the volume of combat in the game in order to appeal to this new idea, but it came out just as I was hoping it would. GP took the step from a very basic dodging and counter attack system to a whole new world of possibility. Now the player was able to attack at any given time, upgrade to perform melee combos, increase their healing rate, upgrade their dodging capabilities, and upgrade their firing and reloading speeds. Things were starting to look pretty sharp... but there was still one piece missing.

    I touched on combat a few times above, but never really went into much detail. This was the most difficult part of the game to get down. The very first concept for GP was based around firearms and counterattacking. Basically, knock the enemy back and put a few into them and run. The next idea was based soley around counterattacking and timing. There was no life gauge, you simply had to counter at the right time or be dead. This method seemed to go over pretty well with the players, but it still just wasn't what I had envisioned for the game. Finally, I came out with a new release where the player could attack at any given time. It seemed pretty solid to me, but the combat was very clunky and misleading. Since all my characters are sized at 640 x 480 and RMXP is based on a collision detail of a 32 x 32 square grid, the sprites on screen had to overlap in order to make contact. So while Amber is swinging  her machete, the enemy graphic would have to overlap with Amber's graphic all the way up to her elbows before a collision could be detected through RMXP's system. Not good. This was a very poorly recieved combat system to all who played the game and quickly forced me to start re-thinking how to do things.

    It wasn't until I came into contact with Jon Bon, at Bon Ink Creations, that the creative wheels in my head started turning again. Through our many conversations we were able to come up with ideas that would finally lead us up to the point we are at today in the combat system. Now when attacking, if the machete so much as touches the enemy grapic RMXP will count it as a collision and the enemy will take damage. The player can even counterattack while the enemy is attacking and beat them to the punch (depending on the enemy's speed). I even decided to take it as far as making an all new cinematic execution system (that was directly influenced by the Ninja Gaiden games) where the player will have the satisfaction of recieving a quick and brutal exectution scene after defeating an enemy. Each one is unique to its enemy meaning the player will never see the same one twice. So now all in all the project's combat system is finally where I wanted it to be all along.

    With the addition of the new combat system, it may seem that some of the horror has been taken out of the game. But not to worry, it still has the same dark atmosphere and creepy music, only now when there IS combat it will actually be exciting. And just because the combat is more user friendly now doesn't mean the game has become any easier. If anything it has gotten harder simply because you can't just hold the attack button and damage the enemy even if you're not facing them. There is frantic button mashing and the need to make some distance between you and the faster, stronger enemies. This new system had added a new nerve wrecking feature to the gameplay that will make the players fear and dread certain enemies.
    
    Over time, the story has changed immensely since its first make way back in my night security days. The first game was the only one that stayed true to the original layout, but because the story was so short I decided to add in a precurser to the original that would lengthen the story and sort of allow the characters to grow on the player a bit more. These "precursers," as I like to call them, have taken on many forms throughout the releases. One involved a car accident and amnesia, another involved a nightmare. They were all well executed, but none of them really stuck. They were all just too cliche. How many times have we played a game or seen a movie where the main character has amnesia, or has a nightmare that would later lead them to the main idea of the story? Too many times over here! Finally, I came up with a good, solid begining that would neatly tie into the rest of the game and even offer the possibility of a sequel.

    Overall, in the project's current form I can comfortably say that I am 100% pleased with the way it has turned out. Which is a first for any game I have ever made. All the characters will have their own back stories and they will all have an important role to play in later parts of the game. Everything you encounter in the game will be explainable through documents and character interaction (and I promise it won't turn out to be some sort of virus or infection).
Over these past 2 years Grave Prosperity has taken on many forms but I feel that it has finally hit home in its current form and won't be changing again any time soon. I realise that many were not all for the game, especially since I was advertising it on RM communities (which are geared more toward a RPG game than anything else), but I did take the constructive criticisims I revieved from those places and used them to improve the overall experience of the game. Now I hope just about any gamer can enjoy the game in some way with all of its additions and upgrades that really sets it into the category of many game genres (Horror, Action, Adventure, RPG). I would like to thank all who take the time to read this article on the history of Grave Prosperity and I wish you all the best experience while playing my game! The "Present of Grave Prosperity" article will be soon to follow this one!
 

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