Archive For "Unearthed"

Unearthed Demo: One Month Retrospective


Last month, I made the decision to release a demo of Unearthed. Although Unearthed may seem like a innocuous little game project, it did pose some moral and legal concerns. Should I worry about receiving a cease and desist from Nintendo? Is it okay to post an IPS patch or ROM online? Would it be better to release nothing until the entire project is complete?

Obviously, I decided to go forward with the release… and the response was quite lovely. While I doubt more than a couple of hundred people actually played the game, it was nice to see so much support for the project on social media. The release also allowed me to do my first large scale beta-testing, which revealed some glaring balance issues and glitches within the game.

I also have decided to make some changes to the structure of the game, based on audience feedback. Here are some core concepts that I will be working towards in future iterations of the game:

  • Less dialogue. I’m going to be making an effort to keep things a bit more concise and directed. I think the extra ROM space made me a little text-greedy.
  • Less NPCs. I ended up removing a fair number of NPCs from the demo, and it worked rather well. Worlds that are full of two-dimensional characters are less intriguing to me than ones with fewer, more memorable ones.
  • More intrigue. Teasing out some of the mysteries in the game will be a priority going forward. Chase’s location and ISAAC’s origin will take center-stage, but there are definitely a few other plot threads that deserve their place in the spotlight.

It may be a while before I release another formal Unearthed update, but I will be working on the project a bit over the summer. If you have any feedback on the game, feel free to get in touch.

Unearthed (EarthBound Hack) Demo Release



Unearthed Demo (vCS108) (requires a SNES Emulator)

After many years of development, I’m happy to announce the release of a public demo of Unearthed. Covering the first few areas of the game, it features between 1-2 hours of gameplay. Many thanks go out to all the folks in the PK Hack community for helping out with the project, and to my brother for writing most of the game’s dialogue.

Note: thanks to Starmen.net forum users Midna and Ballz for troubleshooting the demo. The current download shouldn’t have any glitched hotspots.

What is Unearthed?

Succinctly put, Unearthed is a new role-playing adventure constructed within the framework of the EarthBound ROM. While sharing many of the core mechanics of its predecessor, the game features an original narrative, a new game world, and a bevy of additional gameplay features.

Unearthed is centered around a fairly simple plot: through a series of unlikely events, Mitchell (our protagonist) is thrust into an underground world in search of his younger brother Chase. There, he encounters strange creatures and exotic locations, and gets caught up in the trials and tribulations of this newly discovered realm.

Important Notes

  • Save states will not work properly with Unearthed. This is a side-effect of some of the hacking tools used in its development. The game will auto-save at a couple key points, and a reusable save point will be introduced when things get trickier.
  • Hold the “Y” button to run.
  • Be sure to experiment with abilities. Both “Bust Up!” and “Nullify” are very useful, and ISAAC is a “blue mage” of sorts.

FAQs

Only 1-2 hours of gameplay? Haven’t you been working on this for like 100 years?
Unearthed was made in an very deliberate fashion. Instead of developing the game linearly, with a focus on playable demos, I slowly constructed it layer-by-layer. Although you can only play the first few areas of Unearthed, most of the game’s “infrastructure” (maps, enemies, items, music, sprites, game mechanics, etc.) is complete.

DOES THAT MEAN IT’S ALMOST DONE?!
Nope. Games take a long time to make, and this is still primarily a hobby project for me. I’m currently setting up NPCs and event flags (i.e. the playable game), fixing bugs, and coaxing my brother into writing dialogue. I wouldn’t expect a final release anytime soon.

When can we expect another demo?
Maybe never. This one was relatively straight-forward to create, as it covers the most linear portion of the game. Unearthed becomes (slightly) more open-ended as it progresses, making it tougher to create a self-contained demo.

Aren’t you worried about receiving a Cease & Desist from Nintendo?
Yes and no. On one hand, there have been several high-profile incidents where fangames have been shut down by Nintendo over the last couple years. On the other hand, I’ve been hosting a full ROM of my previous game hack, HyperBound, on my website for almost a decade now. Nintendo’s copyright enforcement seems rather arbitrary.

Regardless, I thought it was worth the risk to release a public demo. I’ve always been a proponent of open game development, and I am excited at the opportunity to have people play the game, even in its limited form.

I noticed a grammatical mistake, a typo, a tile error, or another type of bug.
Great! Either email it to me or comment below. Unless it is about the trees. The trees haunt my dreams.

I have strong feelings about the plot, difficulty, or aesthetic of the game.
I’m not currently taking feedback on any of those things. The plot and aesthetic are essentially locked in at this point, and the difficulty is so tentative that it isn’t really worth tweaking.

Conclusion

I don’t really have an agenda with this demo. I just wanted to share my progress publicly, and give people the chance to play my silly little game hack. Let me know if you end up streaming, reviewing, or writing an irate blog post about Unearthed. I’d love to hear what the EarthBound community thinks of the game.

Unearthed Update: Shadowy Morg on a Shadowy Planet

Following a short winter hiatus, I have resumed production on Unearthed. I was forced to take some time off during the holidays (and an ill-timed move), but I’m now fully entrenched in the “actual game build” portion of development. As seen above, I’ve been having a lot of fun with NPC movement and script-writing.

The first two areas of the game (Glensborough and Rocky Slalom) are both complete. And when I say “complete” I mean “totally playable.” Since all of the prep work (enemies, abilities, maps, etc…) is already done, I can build Unearthed in a relatively linear fashion. I’m just adding NPCs, setting up flags, and creating movement codes. Lots of work, but pretty straight-forward.

I’ll make another blog post later in the month with some additional progress updates and screencaps. In the meantime, enjoy the gifs and check my Twitter for quick updates and inane ramblings.