--------------------------------------------------------------------------- #005 - What is Healing Process: Tokyo? AndÖ An Experience.
October 21st 2017 14:35, (Tokyo) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Welcome back, Iím Sam, and this is the Healing Process Devlog.
What is Healing Process: Tokyo about exactly?
Yesterday I had some good feedback from Yanni H on Facebook in the Indie Game Development Feedback (IGDF) group, letting me know that my site is lacking a real explanation of what the game actually is about and how it works, so Iíve updated the home page with the following;
Healing Process: Tokyo is the story of Charles, a doctor who started his own firm once he moved to Tokyo with his wife Miu. Sadly, Miu is involved in an accident while Charles is away at a medical conference abroad, and sadly passes away before he reaches Tokyo.
Charles returns to Tokyo and continues his empty daily life. Months later, his surgeries begin going wrong, and he is forced by his colleague James who he brought to work in his firm from England to take a break, and see a new therapist with a controversial but effective technique known as AST (Assembled Slumber Treatment) a type of Dream Therapy to help him with his chronic night terrors.
As for the actual gameplay, the player takes control of Charles through real places in Tokyo, meeting people and helping them with their various issues. The player then dives into the Dream World by visiting the therapist and guides Charles through his Dreams. Gameplay in Tokyo does not include combat or side-scrolling action, where the Dream World does. However, quests and helping people in Tokyo have a direct link to what is happening in the Dream World, and sometimes you will have to further remedy the issues of people in Tokyo to help work through your own issues and progress through the Dream World. The game is split into chapters, each corresponding to a new Dream World and new events in Tokyo. There are plenty of side-quests in both Tokyo and the Dream World.
I hope this clears up any confusion about what the game is about.
One Bad Experience in Tokyo
A few years ago in my first year of marriage, I would go to greet my wife from work every day as she was employed by a fashion company while I was working from home. It was a nice routine and gave me a break from my work composing and translating games. This was in Summer, just as I was beginning to mess around with making pixel art and game software, but I hadnít yet begun thinking up Healing Process.
Iím not entirely sure, but there had recently been reports of a foreigner who had assaulted a Japanese woman, or someone in that area selling drugs or something, which may or may not have been related to the following events.
So, I got on the train with my milk tea from the Jidouhanbaiki (vending machine), and at that time I would have been listening to the band called Petrolz religiously. If you know Shiina Ringo, a huge composer and performer in Japan, Petrolz is the band of Ukigumo, the guitarist from her former band Tokyo Jihen (Tokyo Incidents), and their music is incredible. I will link two of their songs, one called ĎTomare Miyoí(or ĎCheck the Stop Signí) and ĎWatch Meí below. ĎWatch meí is all about being faithful to one person and not messing around, a personal favourite of mine.
Two tracks of a library of great songs by Petrolz. Every song of theirs is truly unique! Give them a try.
So I was sat on the train listening to Petrolz, and drinking my tea Ė possibly playing my 3DS. I noticed an old guy looking at me with an angry face from down the carriage, you know that feeling you get when someone is looking at you Ė it must be one of the unnamed senses (unless it has a name which I am oblivious to). Iím no stranger to getting weird looks as a foreigner in Tokyo Ė more often than not it feels positive rather than negative anyway, with the person smiling kindly. There are occasions where the smiles are mocking though, either way it doesnít really bother me what other people are thinking. For that reason I thought nothing of his glare and continued what I was doing. Probably playing Shin Megami Tensei IV which was out early in Japan, another fantastic game by the way.
So I got off the train to make my change to the train to the station where my wifeís workplace was. Walking in front of the ticket machines, there was the usually flurry of people, hundreds, maybe thousands of them. Through the crowd, walking toward me was the old guy, again giving me the same glare as before. I was pretty sure by this point he was drunk. He was wearing a suit with a loosened collar, and he just looked like an average salary man.
Now I want to preface what I am about to say with my honest thoughts of Japan. Japan is a hugely safe place. You can walk alone at night with absolutely no fear of any violence or crime being inflicted on you, and you will definitely be safe especially where there are lots of people. I donít think my experience is normal at all, and I donít expect it to ever happen to me again either.
So, what happened? As he passed me, the old guy grabbed me by the neck! It was seriously painful Ė I actually couldnít breathe to the extent that I could say he was trying to kill me. Now in this instance, I immediately felt the urge to throw him to the floor and give him a smack. I didnít. In these situations Iíd like to credit myself as a quick thinker, and I knew that in an area full of Japanese people Ė a foreigner punching an old man would not look good. So what did I do? I just forced my way walking through his grasp, and he let go. I turned around and looked at him, laughing down at him. He looked absolutely furious. I think he knew how me retaliating would look in an area crowded with people in Japan. Whatís more, there were police standing about 30 metres away who witnessed the entire thing.
I was immediately relieved that I didnít realiate because if I had it would have looked terrible. When I say the guy was old, I mean between 55 and 60, and I would have been about 23 at the time. I donít think I would have seriously injured him or anything, but I probably would have been arrested. Despite seeing me grabbed by the neck, what did the police do? Absolutely nothing. I couldnít be bothered to go and talk to them about what had just happened, and I didnít want to be late to meet my wife so I just let it go.
I donít want my story to paint a bad picture for you about Japan, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong old drunk guy. Japanese people are very respectful of privacy and space, and it still feels like a bad dream to me that this ever happened. The positive thing is that I can use stories such as these in Healing Process: Tokyo. I will write about some of them here, but not enough so that you can guess what is based in reality and what is based in fiction. I think itís better to leave you guessing.
I guess thatís it for today. Please come back tomorrow where Iíll begin to talk about how I started learning Japanese, studying abroad and then living here in Tokyo. Iíll also tease some more screenshots from the game. Until then Iíll leave you with this track from Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru or ĎNight on the Galactic Railroadí, by Hosono Haruomi.
The final theme from Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru, a great piece. A timeless sound with uplifting yet mysterious and dark melodies.
Thanks for taking the time to read, if youíd like to get in contact and discuss the game you can do so by dropping me an E-Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
See you tomorrow!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- #004 Ė Time and Care, Patience and Slowing down.
October 20th 2017 12:33, (Tokyo). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Welcome back to the Healing Process Devlog.
Today Iíd like to talk about something I consider to be the most important when it comes to creation, and that is patience. As I mentioned before, the original Kickstarter campaign for Healing Process: Tokyo was not good. Rushing a piece of work will rarely yield good results. When I was younger, I believed everything needed to be done quickly, and if I didnít see results instantly I would be unsatisfied and give up. The only thing I could really persist at is music, for which I feel now I am finally seeing my progress in leaps and bounds.
Why do we rush things? Because we want validation for our efforts. We donít want to feel like we are wasting our time. For that reason, we constantly harass ourselves to make things quickly. In the early development of anything, especially skills for creating a game or creating a music album, it takes time and effort. If something is worth doing, and you are frustrated at getting minor results back, you actually need to continue your efforts and alter your expectations so that you are expecting the timeline of your project to span over a much larger period of time.
I donít really buy much into self-help much, but I was trying to find a YouTube video of someone mirroring my realisations about patience from the last year, and I came across this on YouTube. I must say I agree with Leo from Actualize.org here:
So where did I learn these values of patience? Well my granddad always used to make sure to tell me to take time with things I was working on, be it a drawing or putting together a small figure or model. Of course, as a child I couldnít see the value in what he was saying, but I am constantly reminded of it now. I believe he planted that seed of thought for me. Seeing the first Kickstarter project fail made me decide I would never rush a piece of work again. In mainstream culture, we are always focused on getting something new, and getting it now, and with access to the internet we are bombarded with information which confuses us. We forget that creation of something worthwhile takes real patience. Letís take Radioheadís music for example. Radiohead will write a song, perform it live and constantly play it live, maybe for years before they record it. And whatís the result? The song will go through immense shifts and refinement, until an immensely deep and inspired piece of music with unrivalled depth is born. They record and re-record endlessly until they finally have a piece of music they feel is worth giving to the public. This level of care is definitely something to aspire to when aiming to create emotionally moving art. This is the kind of art that will stick with the you for a lifetime. Also, if you are asking people to part with their money, you canít just give them something that you created half-heartedly. I feel as if that is completely immoral.
Rather than forcing expectations on myself of when the game Ďshould be finishedí, I respect the project for its potential greatness and keep working hard at it. It doesnít Ďhave to be finishedí at any time, I would go as far as to say it should be treated as a being that you are raising, taking care of its finest aspects until it is worth presenting to society.
Iím paraphrasing but I think itís Alx(?) Preston from heart station who said, as he was being pressured to reveal a release date for Hyper Light Drifter 'it's ready when itís ready', or Ďit takes as long as it takesí. He had a great amount of patience when creating the game, with an eye for quality which really shows. I will link the video of the developerís release video log below. Itís a short but inspiring video which I feel really captures the effort that people will go to to achieve greatness.
So, to keep working without getting burnt out, what can you do?
Just donít be so specific and restricting with your creation. Thereís a reason you had a certain idea when you are creating something, so if you start making something on a tangent that you feel doesnít fit in your project you should still go with it. Donít force yourself down a certain path and let your creative ideas take fruition. In Healing Process: Tokyo, the great thing about the dream world for me is that dreams are a random mishmash of things that you recently experienced during the day. So if I created something, such as a random clapping monkey toy Ė well, throw it in the dream world. Iíll then link it back to something, such as Charlesí visit to the zoo. If he didnít visit the zoo then the clapping monkey toy wonít show up in the dream world. I believe that allowing these small creative tangential ideas to flourish, rather than trying to control them is what helps you create the quirky finer aspects to a game, or any good piece of art. Once you let these ideas play out you will be able to continue on with the project as you planned, and wonít feel bogged down or distracted by small ideas you are constantly pushing away. Again, this comes down to your patience and allowing your mind to move more freely, I think this is the healthiest and most honest way to come at any kind of creative project. While youíre still controlling what you put out eventually, youíre not controlling your initial creativity too much. If you control your creativity too much it can feel forced, so if you just create the thing first and edit it afterwards that has much more raw value in my opinion, and also it keeps you sane as a creator :)
The way I came to realising that these small ideas could be directed into a large project, almost like patchwork was by listening to Radioheadís album ĎThe King of Limbsí. As the title suggests, this album is a sum of its parts, with each of the members going away and bringing back a multitude of music samples they had created, and re-arranging them in the studio to come up with a coherent project. I am mimicking this patchwork of ideas with Healing Process: Tokyoís dream world, throwing in a barrage of random aspects and then linking them back to the very tangible daily experience of Charles in Tokyo. Hereís The King of Limbs, a full studio-recorded live performance with video Ė itís pretty inspiring to see how they recreated the music from the CD live once you know how it was originally created:
Tokyo has a lot less randomness in this regard, as all of the places are created after reference photos I myself have taken. While experiencing these places will hopefully be interesting to the user, creating them is a much more specific Ė and narrow process. Take the photo, copy the places, put them together in the game. Like Japanís society, the creation of Tokyo mimics their way of having a Ďsystem for everythingí. If you donít know what I mean, you can probably look it up. In my experience Japanese people have a specific set of rules and systems to deal with every situation of life, the way companies work, the way people function in their day to day routines and interactions Ė everything has a strict system, and for foreigners it is very hard to deal with. Itís one of the main reasons I work freelance. I canít be pressured by the expectations of that system. So for that reason, I escape into the dream world I am creating in Healing Process: Tokyo, which defies all of these rules of expectation.
Finally, I will leave you with a screenshot of improvement of the laboratory I uploaded in part 2.
Iím going to call it a day here, please come back tomorrow for my next entry.
Thanks for listening,
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- #003. Why is it so long?
October 19th 2017, 13:52 (Tokyo). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
One question I am asked by my game developer friends, and people in my family is,
Ďwhy do you have to make the game so long?í I am aware that if I make the game shorter I will be able to clean up the artwork and tweak the finer aspects of the game more easily. However, I personally wouldnít be proud of making a short 4 hour game, and it wouldnít nearly have the depth that I envision.
Todayís entry is going to be a bit preachy, with me spilling some likely unpopular feelings about the current state of the game industry and games themselves in general, if you donít want to hear that I suggest you come back tomorrow and give this one a miss.
In the last 10 years the gaming world has been turned upside down. For a while indie games ruled the whole scene, however this has bred the mindset that Ďanyone can create a gameí. The truth is anyone can actually create a game now, but the harsh reality is that it has become a market where small devs have been aiming at mobile gaming. 95% of the games out there are poorly produced with little time spent on them, capitalising on tiny, meaningless yet addictive mechanics. These games have become the go-to grab for cash, and in my opinion they are the death of nobility in recent games.
Allow me to take you back to 1997, Final Fantasy 7 is released, you pick it up in your local game shop. You bring the game home to find that it has not 1, not 2, but 3 game discs! A truly meaningful story unravels as you switch out the discs upon advancing. You finish the game, beating your adversary Sephiroth, who has been tormenting you through days or even months of your life. So you finish the game, and shortly after this, both Final Fantasy 8 and 9 are released, with 4 discs each. Fast forward to any time after 2013 and what are so-called Ďgamersí wasting their time on now? Flappy bird? On the other end, AAA games have pay walls, allowing you to throw tens if not hundreds of dollars at games that were most likely not even complete at release, paying for apparent Ďexpansionsí which should have been in the game upon release.
There are good indie games, but sadly there are thousands of shit games too, and these games saturate the market. This isnít a massive problem for the customer, as you can always check YouTube to see what youíre about to buy, but it does bury good games that really deserve a bigger market. For those indie game developers aiming to use platforms such as Kickstarter to fund their games, this presents a massive challenge. Making a decent game is hard enough, and the last thing creative people need is the crowdfunding to part become challenging too. If you have good content and good presentation, you should be funded, but sadly this isnít always the case. At any given time on Kickstarter there will undoubtedly be hundreds of terrible games with overproduced trailers that donít deserve the funding they receive.
Donít get me wrong, the past year has seen the release of some great games, to name a handful I personally enjoyed, Hyper Light Drifter by Heart Machine, Owlboy by D-pad Studio and Rain World by Videocult. And I would also be stupid not to mention the incredible Undertale by Toby Fox from 2015. I would like to join the wave, or looking at things in perspective, the ripple of games bringing back some of the old-school nobility to gaming if I can. So Iím creating a fully produced product, offering no pay walls, and no way for the player to bribe their way past the challenging parts of the game that they just canít overcome. Letís bring back the base challenge of games shall we. You know, even Final Fantasy, albeit not necessarily challenging, at least had a game over screen, forcing you to go back and try again. A game over screen that frustrated and angered you. Oh what? Youíll feel anger while playing? Well thatís good! You should feel something rather than just ĎpayÖ itís too hardÖ Iím just gonnaÖ payí.
As indie developers we donít have to aim for the lowest of the low, creating these kitschy games that end as soon as they begin. Letís write a story, letís create a boss with a back story who attacked your best friend, or letís program an entire mini-game within a game. We can even make a mini-game within our game that challenges the player more than a phone app does. Letís then tie that back into the main story. Did you know in Final Fantasy 8 and 9 there was a card game within the game? I have started designing my own game within Healing Process which I am currently naming ĎBattle Statuesí, itís essentially a mini game with small figures made of rock or crystal that you find within the game, and can challenge NPCs to play against you in-game, acting kind of like a strategy RPG. You then receive or lose pieces upon battling them. Iíll put a screenshot below.
Battle Statues uses enemy animations from within the dream world to bring the game pieces to life. The player can travel all around Tokyo, challenging NPCs for their unique game statues.
Iím also adding another screenshot today that I previously shared on Facebook, itís an area inside a temple inside Charlesí dream world.
Charles finds himself in a Temple, about to be joined by an unwelcoming group.
So, as I briefly mentioned at the beginning of this entry, my game will be long. The player can hop on a train, visiting many places in Tokyo, with about 100 screens worth of places hand-drawn. Not only that, taking a trip to the dream therapist, a staple and core part of the game will allow Charles to visit 5 dream worlds within his mind. This adds another 120 screens to the game. Again, no tilesets! All hand drawn.
The Soundtrack: Tokyo
The areas in Tokyo all use established genres of music. Shibuya is big for bands and live music, so the soundtrack from Shibuya will utilise jazz, rock and blues elements, whereas Nippori is famous for its large graveyard, so sombre piano pieces will be used. You can then head over to the bustling Shinjuku which has a more modern techno-esque element to the music. A genre for each area (of which there are 10). Music will play a huge role in the story, and I plan to implement classical to extremely modern elements as tastefully as I can. I guess in this sense it is reminiscent of the Persona series soundtrack by Meguro Shoji.
The Soundtrack: Dream World
The dream world is a complete reverse of Tokyo. While the soundtrack of Tokyo is comprised of strict genres, such as jazz or classical music, the sounds of the dream world are taken from other cultures, gamelan music from Indonesia is one genre I am currently adapting into the game. A powerful adaptation of gamelan music was heard in the movie ĎAkiraí in 1988(?) (I think). I think a good example is the track ĎKanedaí, I will link it below. The powerful use of Ďthe otherí, utilising the music of cultures outside of the west will invoke mystery of the unknown which still exists to pretty much everyone in the west, as long as the correct music is used. For that reason, in the dream world the gamer will have a sense of diving into the unknown. I have a feeling that this could be a controversial subject which I am not particularly interested in arguing about, but I might be forced to one day.
Kanedaís Theme from Akira (1988) and its inspirational use of Gamelan-esque tuned percussive instruments.
As well as utilising types of music and adapting them into the game in my own way, I am trying to create one or two cultures of music myself. These cultures or dare I say genres have come from my own experimentation and I hope they will be interesting to the listener.
So to summarise, the reason the game is so long is that I am pouring a lot of myself into it, I am trying to create depth within the game while also fine tuning every aspect. A lot of time goes into writing and rewriting music, the script and rethinking and recreating the gameís programming and game mechanics. Once I begin the Kickstarter campaign this will hopefully be evident by the trailer, music and art I have created.
As always come back every day to hear my new ramblings. Iíll try to keep it lighter tomorrow.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- #002 Ė Motivation?
October 19th, 2017 02:37 (Tokyo). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
I was going to talk about various games, movies and music that have inspired me during the development of Healing Process: Tokyo, however I decided to talk about something different today which is motivation, and how I remain so motivated to complete this game.
Since I was about 9 I have always idolised huge figures in the music world. It started off with Uematsu Nobuo, from when I first played Final Fantasy 6 / 7 / 8, and Iwadare Noriyuki when I started playing Grandia. At this time, I heard music continuously for the first time, and like anyone who played those games, I could hum along and memorised every melody to every instrumental. This is what inspired me to analyse music. Thanks to this experience, I have an obsession with analysing every piece of music I hear, Iím sure this isnít unique to me and anyone who composes music probably has that same compulsion. From this age, I wanted to be a composer, but I didnít even know what a composer was, or how music was made, I just knew it was the most important thing I had experienced. Music held a kind of magic to me that nothing else did, and what I didnít know at the time was that the experiences in the games I was playing tied to the music have immense emotional power. I can listen to the track Fishermanís Horizon from Final Fantasy 8 and all of the memories of that little town come flooding back to me more vividly than places I went to on holiday in real life, or other short experiences in my life. I think the only thing stronger than music in this regard is the sense of smell, but I donít really have an interest in perfume.
Iíve had many people I consider role models thanks to this yearning to compose music, in somewhat chronological order, Uematsu Nobuo from Final Fantasy, Iwadare Noriyuki from Grandia, Matsumae Kimitaka from Jade Cocoon, Naruke Michiko from Wild Arms, Mitsuda Yasunori from Chrono Trigger and many more I will get into in the future. More recently I have been listening to Meguro Shoji from the Shin Megami Tensei series, Kanno Yoshiroís soundtrack from Angelís egg and Hosono Haruomiís music from Night on the Galactic Railroad. Living in Tokyo I have had the pleasure of meeting and even befriending some of these people, and I am grateful for that, itís something I couldnít have done when I was 9. People always take you more seriously as an adult!
So, my motivation comes from this fact; if there is impactful music (or just loops of arranged sound) along to emotional scenes and interactive experiences in a game, it can trigger the memories and feelings of the gamer in the time that they originally experienced the game. For me, hearing the Grandia or Final Fantasy 8 soundtrack, or even Jade Cocoonís (PS1) soundtrack takes me back to when I was 9, playing games with my best friend Ethan and being at home, living a happy life as a kid. The music recreates this environment for me. Which is probably why I play Final Fantasy 8 once every year. It helps me recapture my youth, saying that Iím only 27 though so Iím not an old man yet.
Growing up with inspiration to create music, I picked up the acoustic guitar my dad was always playing at about 13 years old and claimed it as my own for a year or so until he bought me my first electric guitar, a Fender Stratocaster and small Marshall Amp. I played it from when I got home from school until about 2am religiously for the next 6 years, while sitting in front of MSN Messenger to keep some kind of connection to the outside world. My aim was clear Ė I would create music. I didnít yet know how, but I would be creating music from now on. I continued idolising game composers and imitated their music on the guitar, as well as guitarists, very specifically John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ask me to play something from Blood Sugar Sex Magik to Stadium Arcadium and I will be able to play it any time.
As well as wanting to create these experiences with Healing Process: Tokyo, and lots of them, I also would like to one day be considered by others how I see my idols. This is a more selfish thought, indeed, I too would like to make my mark on the world. I would like to join this group and possibly give someone else the motivation that my heroes have given me. I would like to inspire the same hunger for creation that I have in someone else. Not only for music, but for anything, animation, art, writing, these are all things that can give people a sense of great purpose, and things that I feel arenít particularly encouraged in school. We have English classes, but the main emphasis is on reading the work of others, music classes are usually a joke, as are art classes in my experience in high school and below. Why do we emphasise so much on the intake of the work of others in school when we do that outside of school anyway? Why canít we have at least an equal time creating?
Okay, I am kind of taking this on another tangent Ė forgive me as I am just writing in a stream of consciousness trying to keep everything together.
So, motivation, yes Ė this obsession with music would probably be called unhealthy by most people, causing me to shut myself inside, constantly creating things. But I donít share that opinion. Creating this game has caused me to go outside more than I usually would, taking thousands upon thousands of reference images in only a year. On the recorded narration I am interrupted by a political candidateís promotion van driving around with megaphones attached to it, you should check this out Ė itís pretty common in Japan. I have started a band, for which I do compose all of the music Ė but I have somewhat consistent contact with my band members when we practice and I keep in touch with my bandís bassist Benko a lot outside of band time. If youíre interested in that project by the way, we have 2 tracks up on soundcloud. The bandís name is Autocoders, I am currently recording our first album, another project which I have been working on for almost 2 years now. The website is auto-coders.com .
Motivation towards music has always been my main reason for living. It sounds dramatic, but once I discovered music, all irrational fear and feeling of doubting myself slowly faded away, if I can do this, I can do something, and something I hold in high regard. I owe it to music that I have never become depressed, or felt suicidal, or anything like that. I canít understand people with no passion. Even if I had to stop after losing my hearing , this passion for music has granted me a way of seeing the world differently, and I would definitely just become a full time photographer or animator or something if I had to give it up.
I could talk about this for forever but this is a daily devlog and I donít want to take too much time away from development. I am attaching an image todayís work in progress, a kind of industrial, steam punk styled laboratory. If you are listening to this recording outside of my official site, please go to the gamedev section on my website healingprocessgame.com to see the image. I am also going to provide a YouTube link to the main theme to Angelís Egg which I find to be endlessly inspiring. Thatís the devlog section at healingprocessgame.com.
Today's work in progress from Healing Process: Tokyo.
Angelís Egg: Main Theme
As always, thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.
Fade out track: ĎFinal Thoughtsí from Healing Process: Tokyo (By me).
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- #001 - Introduction - A new devlog
October 18th, 2017 01:53 (Tokyo). ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Healing Process: Tokyo is a game created by me, Sam Jones.
I live in Tokyo with my wife, working as a composer and translator on freelance terms, while creating my game Healing Process: Tokyo. From today, please visit healingprocessgame.com for more details, photos and constant updates about the development process. That's healingprocessgame.com
Healing Process: Tokyo
I am going to begin the story of the development of my game Healing Process: Tokyo from the beginning. Where else? I originally had the idea for this game in late 2014. At that time, HP was a simple story of an English doctor called Charles Russell living in Tokyo, having problems due to his depression. These problems include unnecessary deaths during surgery, with Charles being completely unable to take care of his patients correctly. The end game was going to be one final surgery that the player had to prepare for, they would then be given a grade and a good, bad or perfect ending depending how well they did. In 2017, the game has the same story line, however, it includes a twist of dream therapy, which allows the game to include side-scrolling battling, exploration and various metroidvania style game elements. The original plan for the gameplay was about 5-10 hours. However, now the scope of the game is now huge, with over 100 enemies, 200 screens worth of areas to explore, not tileset based art mind you, each area drawn individually by hand.
Back in 2014, I had no idea how to go about making games, and no idea about making animation or programming. One thing I did know about is creating a good soundtrack
and sound effects for a game. I draw a massive amount of inspiration from Final Fantasy 6,7,8 - Star Ocean for the Super Nintendo, and more complicated scores such as Grandia for the PS1. Soundtracks and imagery from movies such as Angels egg, Metropolis and Ginga Tetsudou no Yoru (or Night on the Galactic Railroad) have been endless sources of inspiration to me. I have listened to these three soundtracks thousands of times each while drawing game art and writing the script for the game late at night.
Honestly, the reason I began making a game was so I could create a long, in-depth soundtrack. The soundtrack will be around 4 hours, and currently in 2017 I am still creating the game with that soundtrack in mind. I want complete control over the soundtrack and sound effects, the mood of the game, everything.
Yes, I started making my own game to write a soundtrack without limitations. And not only without limitations, but with the events and flow of the game being so tied in with it, due to my writing and creating the whole experience.
Anyway, in Winter 2014 I started making the pixel in ridiculously high resolutions, like 1920x1080(!), drawing everything pixel by pixel. By 1920x1080 resolution, I mean the target window size would actually be 1920 by 1080 with no double sizing of the pixel assets. Old Super Nintendo games are only around 220 pixels height and lengthways. I really did not know what I was doing. I am now working with a huge screen size for pixel art, at 640x360 pixels, it's a lot - but it's managable for the style I am drawing in.
It was completely ridiculous once I started out, but I used these sprites that I made to mess around with the programming and getting used to the game engine.
After 2 to 3 months I decided to start working with an artist called Igor Green, as I wasn't entirely sure what direction to take the art. I believe we downgraded the pixels at that time to around 300 by 200 pixels roughly but I don't remember precisely. Igor goes by the name grigoreen. I'm sure if you type it into google it will come up. He would provide the pixel art for the levels, the sprites, everything except the character portraits. Despite our differences, and issues during creating Healing Process: Tokyo in the beginning, I believe to this day he is talented as a pixel artist, and I wish him well in his career as an artist.
Shortly after Igor joined the team, I found Niho Ame, an artist, who again I believe to be a very skilled. I am a fan of him and his work, and still consider him a friend to this day.
We began working together on Healing Process: Tokyo, with the agreement that the game belongs to me, but we would have revshare reflective of a person's work on the project. Everyone owns their own work until payout.
We worked together until September 2015, aiming for Kickstarter.
The Kickstarter campaign was rushed, I'm sure it will come up on google if you type 'Healing Process: Tokyo Kickstarter'. You should check it out, it will be the top result. I believe it will definitely be worth comparing it to the kickstarter campaign I will be launching soon in 2017. The music and programming, trailer, and other elements were by me, the promotion art was by Niho Ame and 95% of the pixel art was by Igor Green, with me filling in a few holes during programming.
We actually got some backers - about 150 people. I am eternally grateful for these people, however we only got about 35% of the money we requested, so the campaign failed. The demo was poor, buggy and boring. I thought 'okay, well that's that', and directed those who backed to the pre-order page on my site. I got some pre-orders, not a lot, but a few. Saying that, it wasn't even enough to pay a month's rent or anything.
As time went on, Igor and Niho's work slowed down, I was requesting art assets and pieces for the game, and the pieces from Igor were either rushed and subpar, or just too late. Needless to say, without money, people can't prioritise making a game like this. But I always have prioritised it, even over my own work.
Igor gave me reasons time and time again as to why he couldn't create the art fast enough, and eventually, his excuses were just too much to deal with. He claimed that he had given up all of his money to help his sick friend, and I gave a cold response like 'well those excuses arenít going to help the progress of the game, are they?' At this point, I was sick of his excuses and wasn't sure if he was telling the truth or not. I was very cold to him at that time, and anyone would say it wasn't the best way to deal with things.
I parted ways with Igor, we blocked each other on Skype and Facebook, and I didn't see him around online from then on. However, I kept him as an admin on my Facebook group by mistake, honestly - I forgot he was an admin, and didn't use the group very often at that time. This lack of awareness came back to bite me about a year and a half later, but I will save that story for next time.
With Igor off the project, I began working on the pixel art myself. Honestly, I wanted to go solo at this point, but I couldn't bring myself to kick Niho off of the project and decided to continue working with him. I like his work, but like Igor, he became progressively became slower and slower, sometimes with no art for months on end.
I like to have control over things, and for that reason, I eventually let go of Niho as well, as heíd only drawn a very few amount of pictures in the space of months.
Let me be clear about this now, all intellectual property of Healing Process: Tokyo belongs to me.
I decided to take the project on by myself. I began again on the art from scratch, and I decided to see it through to the end alone. The story remains the same as how I originally envisioned it, but with new gameplay battling, adventure in a dream world, as well as exploration in Tokyo. Needless to say, Niho and Igor's assets are not being used in the game anymore, and any media on the website and Facebook group is by me (except art in the old trailer).
At the time of creating the original kickstarter campaign, it goes without saying that I was stumbling (fumbling) in the dark not really knowing what I was doing, learning various bits of skills along the way. Could I complete a game? Would I be able to make it entertaining? At that time, I probably couldn't have. Now, 2 years later with the experience of working on this game daily, I finally have something I feel I have to get out into the world. I am working alone, but this gives me a level of security I didn't have when working with others. I will get the game completed how I envision it. I simultaneously can't wait for it to be finished and am enjoying the development process, crafting each aspect of the game to my tastes, getting further lost in the world I am creating. I have made the right choice with continuing Healing Process: Tokyo, not that quitting has ever been an option for me anyway.
People may be reading this, or listenining to this (or not at all) thinking that I am taking too much on, and I must get burnt out with the creation of all of the game's assets, however - that's not the case. Once I've had enough of drawing art, I can switch to music which I never get sick of, and even if I do get a bit burnt out from that - I can go outside and take reference images of Tokyo for inspiration.
I am going to continue talking about how I started drawing art for the game, and the scope of the game next time.
Please do come back for daily recordings of my game development on Healing Process: Tokyo. And visit Healing Process: Tokyo for the visuals of how the game has improved from its initial state.
Thank you for reading,
Come back again tomorrow.
Fade out track: ĎMain Themeí from Healing Process: Tokyo (2015 Version) (By me).