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Author Topic: A story that goes Beyond (Beyond the Beyond LP)  (Read 2783 times)
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« on: 11, March, 2021, 05:25:47 AM »

Long before Camelot made Golden Sun, they had dabbled with other games. Shining Force is well known and reasonably respected. This however.. isn't.

As far as I can tell from Internet sources, Beyond the Beyond was the first JRPG to be released on the PS1. On release, it largely met with a lukewarm reception before being buried under other, better games. So.. not a lot of background to go off of.

However, I can promise that this will be a unique and interesting experience, having played through it before. In some ways, it foreshadows the flaws prevalent in the Golden Sun series itself. But much like those games, this is a wacky adventure with some very memorable moments.

Enough talk though, let's begin!



Ah, Camelot's old logo. Must say, "Software Planning" is a weird choice of words. Planning is often associated with architecture or economy, not software development. I also miss the little castle graphic that would become so distinctive later.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPLZzXODoOk&list=PLE9BF8AFC95225482&index=1

The title screen seems promising. We have the title on an appropriate period-y background, and an appropriately heroic ditty to go with it.



https://youtu.be/yPLZzXODoOk?list=PLE9BF8AFC95225482&t=33

The very next scene is a complete turnaround. For whatever reason, we are thrown into a weird kaleidoscopic area, with some lady insisting that something terrible is upon us. Despite that, we are treated to a relaxing tune.



Ah, of course. This is the save game selection screen!



We are prompted to name our rather doofy looking protagonist. We can't see much beyond his face, but he does look similar to some Camelot protagonists.. Felix



I name him the most appropriate and goofy name I could think of. And no, the x is not part of it.



Quote
Mysterious Lady: Steiner should be an adequate partner. He will certainly try his best for you.(Ma'am, you don't sound very confident in this Steiner, whoever he may be)
Mysterious Lady: Steiner! Take care of Artur!
Tiny Dragon: Artur! I'll take you to the village of Isla!(Ah, there you are, Steiner! And wait a minute, you can carry a teenage boy to a village? Sure, why not!)
Steiner: There, our adventure begins!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMsIGyarvos&list=PLE9BF8AFC95225482&index=2

Cue moving to a new scene, where a man chops trees in an oddly barren field.



He is soon joined by a lady with a portrait even more ridiculous than the protagonist's.

Quote
Man: Mmm... I'm sure they're fine.
Man: They will probably be home soon.



Suddenly a young girl joins the conversation!

Quote
Young Girl: ...into the fields and instructs him in swordplay until he is completely exhausted!
Young Girl: How can you call that "fine"?!
Lady: Oh Annie... I understand your concern, but you shouldn't take your frustration out on your father.
Annie: But Sir Kevins is being too hard on him!
Annie: If Artur gets hurt again, I will never forgive him!
Lady: What was that all about?
Man: Huh? Ohhh. I think she just worries about Artur a lot.
Man: Unfortunately... It looks like her concern might be justified. Look.
Lady: Huh? What do you mean?
Lady: Sir Kevins! Oh... Artur...



Cue Kevins entering with Artur on his back.

Quote
Kevins: Hmmm... I didn't realize how quickly time flies.
Man: Well... I hope Artur is not hurt.
Kevins: Oh, he is quite all right. When he recovers consciousness, he won't feel a thing.
Lady: I don't want to be rude but...
Lady: Even though you're his father, don't you think you're being a bit harsh?
Lady: Artur is just a kid. Why are you training him like this? It's too cruel!
Lady: I know it's your job to defend the kingdom, and this may be hard for you to understand, but for women, we value children more than our own lives!(Yeah, you sure showed those stupid men who have never had kids!)

Lady carried Artur into the house, then Annie pops up in surprise!

Quote
Annie: Artur!!
Annie: How terrible... I must speak with you, Sir Kevins!

Annie barges out of the house, and confronts Kevins.

Quote
Annie: I have... always wanted to tell you...
Annie: I think your methods are extreme!! You allow Arthur, who is without a mother, to live with us, but when you visit once a month, you nearly torture him to death!
Annie: Is this your idea of being a good father?
Man: Annie, calm down.
Annie: If this happens again, I will... I will never forgive you!

Annie storms off into the house.

Quote
Man: Oh Annie... I must apologize, Sir Kevins. She has her mother's spirit.
Kevins: Or perhaps her father's?
Man: Ha ha ha ha ha.
Kevins: ha ha... HAHAHAHA!
Man & Kevins: WAHAHAHAHA!!

Annie bursts out of the house again.

Quote
Annie: Dad! If Artur gets hurt like that again, I'm holding you responsible as well!!

Annie slips back in

Quote
Kevins: Well...
Kevins: Sir Galahad, I think I will return to the castle.(Finally, we have a name for this man!)
Galahad: What? You mean you're leaving without saying goodbye to Artur?
Kevins: I care for him, but the longer I stay with him, the harder it is to leave him here.
Kevins: I'm also worried about things at the castle.
Galahad: You're worried about Bandore, right?
Kevins: Yes, we recently found several of their spies roaming around our kingdom.(Wow, that doesn't sound good)
Kevins: I wouldn't be surprised if they attack us while I am not there. Sir Galahad, please take care of Artur.

Kevins prepares to leave, but turns around at the last moment.

Quote
Kevins: Will you ever change your mind and return to Marion Castle?
Galahad: I'm sorry... but no.
Kevins: Ah... it must be the young prince that you don't like, huh?
Galahad: Marion will be fine with you and Samson there.
Galahad: An old soldier like me only wants to live the rest of his days happily.

Kevins leaves, and says something from offscreen

Quote
Kevins: Artur has grown strong. Much more than I expected.
Kevins: Hmm... I know! As a reward, why don't I show him around the castle? Please tell him to go there when he recovers.
Galahad: I will. But that's kind of boring. Why not give him a challenge?(What the hell, Galahad?)
Galahad: If he succeeds, then he can go to Marion.
Kevins: That's a good idea! Please do that. (No it isn't! What sense does that make?)

Galahad enters the house, scene ends.

A small ditty plays, followed by...



Quote
Steiner: Kyuruuuu!

Steiner starts tugging on Artur's head, until he gets irritated enough to get up.

Quote
Kyrrrrr... Good morning, Artur!

Artur looks at Steiner, Annie climbs into his room.

Quote
Annie: Hee hee!
Annie: Morning, sleepy guy.
Annie: Daddy has something important to tell you. He's been waiting a while, so please see him as soon as possible.
Annie: Your best friend, Steiner, took care of you all night. You should thank him.

Annie goes downstairs.

Quote
Steiner: Annie took care of you too. What is she talking about?
Steiner: Let's go, Artur! Sir Galahad is waiting.

Steiner then sticks behind Artur, where he will be for most of the game.

Phew, that was a lot of dialogue we had to go through! What did we learn?

1. Despite Steiner claiming he would carry Artur to Isla village, Artur has a human dad and a foster family who have been taking care of him for some time.
2. His dad doesn't really spend much time with him, only instructing him in swordfighting once a month.
3. Somehow Galahad thinks that his swordfighting classes aren't enough to deserve a castle tour and proposes a challenge to make him "worthy".
4. There's an empire spying on Marion, the kingdom Artur and co. live in presumably.
5. Annie and the lady(presumably Galahad's wife) take issue with Kevins' lackadaisical attitude towards Artur, understandably. Galahad doesn't seem to mind.
6. Camelot was very longwinded even back in the day.

Tune in next time for some actual gameplay! Hopefully!
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« Reply #1 on: 16, April, 2021, 03:05:28 AM »

It's been a long time since last huh? Let's continue this game.

Last time we left Artur, he was here:



We can search around the room a little. There's a Herb in the bottom leftmost corner of this room.



As you can see, Beyond the Beyond's menu is pretty heavily inspired by Dragon Quest. Talk lets you talk to other characters, Search searches the area in front of Artur, Magic lets Artur or any other character cast spells that are relevant outside battle, Item lets you use items, and Prepare has three commands under it that let you check the stats of your characters, set their formation, and change the settings for message speed, windows, and window colors. Note that Talk and Search can also be performed with a hotkey, so we shouldn't need those options much.

Let's head down to meet our dad figure, Galahad.



Quote
Galahad: Artur, would you like to see Marion Castle?
Galahad: I have a small favor to ask. If you can do it for me, I'll take you to Marion Castle.
Galahad: There is a cavern called the Cave of Spirits to the far east of this village.
Narrator: Sir Galahad removes a flask from the shelf.
Galahad: A natural spring in the deepest part of the cave contains Magical Water.
I want you to fill this flask with that water. What do you say? Will you do it?
Artur rushes to Galahad and takes the flask.
Annie: What about me?
Annie: Can I go too?
Galahad shakes in disapproval, his wife turns to face Annie.
Lady: Annie... Please listen.
Lady: Artur is going somewhere dangerous, and besides, you are just a girl...
I can't let you go.(Well I guess she didn't get enough training then because of her double X chromosomes)
Annie shakes in shock and frustration, backing away slowly.
Annie: Oh, is that right? You think I'm just a weak girl, huh? Fine.
I won't ask next time.
Annie rushes outside the house, stumbling upon the doorstep. She gets up and keeps running. The others are left gaping at her.
Steiner: Krrr. Krrrr.
Galahad: Huh, you want to go too, right? Well you're not a kid, you're a dragon.
Go on and help Artur.(Okay so Galahad can speak in dragon tongue? Is that what this is implying? And can't Steiner speak normally, as he did with Artur earlier?)
Galahad returns to his seat by the table, his wife returns to the oven.
Steiner: I feel sorry for Annie, but let's hurry up and get the Spirit Water.(Wow, way to sound insincere about your feelings!)

We regain control again, and look around the room. Searching his bookshelves reveal books about being a soldier and good tactics. So perhaps Galahad is a retired soldier then?

Let's talk to Galahad and his wife:
Quote
Galahad: The Cave of Spirits is dangerous. So why don't you take whatever you need from the basement. It's all at your disposal.
Quote
Lady: You're very peculiar, Artur. Sometimes it looks as if you can actually understand what that dragon is saying. Anyhow, don't worry about Annie, and please be careful. (Okay so other people can't understand Steiner.. yet Galahad talked with Steiner just a while ago. Inconsistency? Or perhaps Galahad could read his mannerisms? Eh, whatever)

Trying to go outside gets us chided by Steiner:

Quote
Steiner: Artur! The Cave of Spirits is a dangerous place.
As Sir Galahad suggested, you should take some weapons from the storage!

Well then, we'll head downstairs.



The shiny sword on the wall is indeed a Short Sword, which gets equipped automatically by Artur. The bottom right barrel has an Antidote, and the second barrel slightly left of center has another Herb. Checking the chest reveals that it is, infact, a storage box. You can store either items or money in it. This is another thing taken from Dragon Quest, though quite a few games with limited inventories have adopted it ever since. Anyhow, we're not interested in storing anything, so let's check what we can take out.

Turns out there's a decent haul in there. We can retrieve 2 Herbs, 4 Antidotes, and a Light Shield. The Light Shield is an accessory for Artur that improves his defense slightly. The other items should be fairly self explanatory.

With that done, we head outside the house, only to be interrupted by Galahad again!



Quote
Galahad: I almost forgot. In the Cave of Spirits, there is a fork in the road with two paths.
Take the path to the right because the left one is very dangerous. Don't forget!
At the fork, go to the right!

And with that, we're finally out of the house on our own! Let's see what the townsfolk have to say.

Quote
Headclothed man with backpack: I am the travelling merchant, Michael. You will not find better prices in all of Isla.
Do you wish to buy any products?

Michael sells Healing Herbs and Cure Herbs, in addition to the stuff we picked from home. Healing Herbs are noticeably more potent than regular Herbs, and Cure Herbs remove all statuses. Neither are that relevant to our current quest though, so we skip them. Michael can also Repair stuff. This will be relevant much later.



The priest can save our game, resurrect dead party members, and cure us of all statuses. Naturally, he does charge for the last two functions. For some strange reason, he can also shut down the game after you save.

Quote
Lady to the left: Oh! Artur, I haven't seen Annie today. Is she helping Sonya with something?
Old man in top left house: You are going to the Cave of Spirits? That place is full of monsters.
Well, be very, very careful.
Kid at northern town gate: Oh, Artur. I'm sorry, but I can't open the gate for a minor without the expressed permission of their parent or guardian. (So apparently Artur isn't of age, yet Galahad sees no trouble sending him to a dangerous cave full of monsters? Great parenting right there!)
Man at bottom left: Many people in town have been victims of the monsters in the Cave of Spirits. If you can retrieve the Spirit Water, you will have the entire village's respect.
Lady in bottom left house: Artur, Todd was asking to play with you.
Todd: I want to play with you, but I have something to take care of...
Let's play after I'm done, okay? Promise?
Bookshelf in bottom left house: "Fairy Tales for Kids"
Lady outside Artur's house: I recently saw some soldiers from Bandore. I wonder what they were doing here.
Lady at the bottom center: Artur, are you going out? You shouldn't go out too far or Sir Galahad might get mad.
Old man in bottom center house: Was that Artur who just passed by ready to fight?
That reminds me of our war with Bandore. We nearly lost that one.

Alright, so mostly the townfolk have little to say. They are concerned about us heading to a monster filled cave, understandably. There's also talk of Bandore, considering that apparently Marion and Bandore are enemies, that's likely not good news. Thankfully it's not our business.



We're finally on the world map! Hopefully we can get to some gameplay... next time!
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« Reply #2 on: Today at 07:55:09 AM »

Alright, it's time to move on!



Though we are in the overworld, we can really only go to one other place at the moment - this cave. Let's just do it.



Cave of Spirits
Walking just a few steps into the cave leads to our first encounter.. and it's a scripted one too!

Battle 1
So a quick rundown of combat actions: we can pick between Fight, Tactics and Run. Fight brings up a submenu of options, Tactics allows you to choose between a bunch of auto combat modes or manual battle, and Run does what you think it would. Currently we don't have Tactics because we only control Artur, and always have to issue commands to him.

As for Fight's submenu, it provides options to Attack, use Magic, Defend, or use Item(s). If you've played any RPG, odds are you know what all of these commands do. Honestly, even if you haven't, they're fairly self explanatory.

Given that this is the early game, Artur doesn't really have any options besides Attacking or Using items to heal.

This particular fight goes fairly trivially, and gives equally trivial rewards.



Quote
Artur: Huh?!(Rejoice, the presumably silent character spoke!)
Annie: I came anyway!
Steiner: Oh... It's Annie.
Annie: "Oh... It's Annie." What kind of greeting is that?!
Steiner: Annie, why are you here? You're not thinking about going with us, are you?(Wow, Steiner really doesn't like Annie being here)
Annie: Why, Steiner?!
Annie: Do you think I would be a nuisance if I came along?!
Steiner makes a head shaking motion with his body, as if to say no
Annie: Do you feel the same way, Artur?
Artur also does a head shaking motion, except with his, well, head
Annie: Really??? Are you sure?? I won't be in the way?
Both Steiner and Artur proceed to perform the head shaking motions they did before
Annie: But maybe I shouldn't... I'm just a weak girl... I wouldn't want to hinder your journey.
Annie: If I get in your way, then you won't be able to do the favor for my father.
Artur nods his head(This seems like a dumb thing to do, and it contradicts all the fervent head shaking so far. So does Artur want Annie on the journey or not?)
Annie: Hah! I knew that's how you felt! Just like every other MAN!
Annie quickly moves upto Artur
Annie: You think you're so strong that you don't need a woman's hand, huh?!(Oh I see, she's going to act like a spoiled brat in response to Artur's poor gesturing. That's cool.)
Annie: Hmph, I'm not so easily scorned.
Annie: I'm the daughter of the kingdom's top knight & I have been trained to fight.
Annie shoves Artur aside and then proceeds to move deeper into the cave
Steiner: Annie! Where are you going?
Annie moves deeper into the cave, then turns around
Annie: Where I go doesn't concern the two of you.
Annie: When I get the Spirit Water, maybe you'll respect me then.
Steiner: We're in trouble, Artur! This place is dangerous. We must stop Annie.

Of course, trust this game to open the very first dungeon with DRAMA.

Heading deeper into the cave ourselves leads to more scripted fights, where Artur can still only choose between Attacking and Using Items. Not worth covering.
What is worth covering is the way this game does attacks and counter attacks.

You see, when you decide to attack a target, the game chooses between a regular attack or a critical hit. Occasionally, it will let you execute a second attack, which again can be a regular hit or a critical hit. So you have as much as four times the regular damage on one end, and damage worth one hit on the other. This leads to lots of variation in how effective the attack command is, which isn't really great for balance.

Now all of the stuff I said above for regular attacks? ALSO applies to counter attacks. Oh, and enemies get to use the same system for executing attacks, meaning you get to feel the brunt of the uneven damage yourself. It's honestly rather absurd, and should have really required some mechanism to control it, be it your to hit(which isn't a real stat in this but whatever), a timed minigame, or perhaps even a special command that consumed some kind of resource.

Technically speaking, there's the concept of timed hits alluded to in the manual. The problems with the implementation are that you only get the prompts for timed hits at random(a think sound when you or your enemies move to attack), and that getting the right inputs in doesn't really guarantee a double or critical hit or even a counterattack, merely raises the chances of it happening. So, uh yeah, basically it never matters much.



In addition to all of the above, Artur can randomly get a "dual attack" like this. Only he can ever score it, and it seems to either deal the damage of two dual attacks, or a critical attack. So effectively it's just an additional chance for him to score those two outcomes. Moving on.



The Tumblerabbit is as unremarkable as every enemy here, except for one thing; occasionally it jumps through the air to deliver an attack on Artur, complete with comical spring sound effect. It's quite hilarious actually.



Quote
Annie slowly steps backwards
Annie: Leave me alone!
Artur and Steiner cautiously move forward
Annie: I said, "Leave me alone!"
Annie runs to the stairwell on the left
Steiner: Wait. Which way was the dangerous path? It was... left. Right?

Indeed it was. So, they deliberately write Annie to be a brat and then deliberately also write her to be rash. I'm not sure we're supposed to care for her, outside of her being the protagonist's sister(or sister figure). Anyway, let's pretend we do care and go the dangerous way downwards.



Down here, a chest holds this Source of Wisdom. There's a bunch of various Sources around in this game, and they basically act as stat boosts. As you might guess, this one boosts the magic casting stat, called "IQ" in this game. This is perhaps the least useful stat to boost, and I'll show you why in due time.

At level 3, Artur learns FireLevel1. It's a decent enough spell for now, hitting about as hard as a critical attack. This also gives me an opportunity to showcase the uselessness of IQ. Pictured, Artur hurling a fireball without drinking the Source of Wisdom:



And with:



Admittedly, that's just one IQ boosting potion, however it will quickly become apparent that IQ has little to no impact on how much damage a spell does. Infact, it's best to consider spells as fixed damage sources. This also leads to spells becoming outdated surprisingly quickly, as you can imagine.

Unfortunately, for as helpful as FireLevel1 is now, Artur only has enough MP to cast it once. So the rest of the dungeon is still the same ol' Attack and Item routine.

Quote
A scream is heard as Artur descends further downward
Steiner: Artur! That's her! Something must have happened! Let's hurry up and find her!

Down the stairwell lies..



Ugh, that looks gruesome. Let's hurry up!

Quote
Steiner: Annie is in trouble! Artur, what are we going to do?
Artur and Steiner nod to each other, then proceed to move to both sides of the creature and fight it. Unfortunately this has little effect, and both are thrown back hard.
They try once more, and fail, this time running into each other. The creature moves away from them.

Annie: HELP!!
Both of them get up, and Steiner tries to pull Annie out of the grasp of the creature, with little success
Annie: Steiner, please... Help me!
Steiner: Just hang on, Annie! I'll save you.
Annie: Steiner, I... I can... no longer...
The creature promptly slips out of sight, tossing Steiner backwards. When both of them get up, all that remains are a bunch of bubbles where the creature once rose from. Steiner checks the spot dejectedly, and this plays
Steiner: Artur, we have got to do something! There must be a way to rescue her!

So we went from Annie being a brat and running rashly into dangerous caves to Annie being captured by a horrible swamp monster, possibly dead. That sure escalated quick.
Leaving makes Steiner prompt this:
Quote
Steiner: Artur, we can't leave her here! We must do something!

Indeed, we must.

Taking the other stairwell, we soon end up here:



That sure looks like a spring to me, so let's fill our Flask! To do this, we need to select the Flask in our Item menu while facing the spring. Using it gets us the Spirit Water, complete with happy jingle. Unfortunately, we can't drink it, merely look at it.

Rushing through many, many dull encounters back to the swamp on the left...

Quote
Steiner: Artur, try everything you can to save Annie!

Using the Spirit Water on the swamp leads to...

Quote
The creature from earlier shrieks in pain, rising up and tossing out Annie in a fit.
It retreats quickly.
Steiner rushes to Annie's side

Steiner: Annie! Wake up! Wake up, Annie! It's no use... We have to try something else.
Artur nods and pours a few drops of Spirit Water into Annie's mouth.
Both of them then wait and watch as she slowly regains consciousness.

Annie: Uuummm... <cough>
Annie: Uuuh... <cough>
Annie: Mmmm...
Annie gets up, everyone rejoices, and this tune plays
Annie: I... I was... ehh?
Annie looks around a bit perplexed
Annie: The Kraken dragged me underwater! I don't even want to think about it!
Steiner: Annie, I'm so relieved. You sound all right.
Steiner: Artur, let's go. We shouldn't stay here too long.
Annie: I'm scared... I can't walk alone. Take me with you, okay?

And with that, we finally get a second party member. Took them long enough.
Annie is more mage like than Artur, as far as her stat distribution and equipment goes. She also starts at level 1 and currently hits for rather pathetic damage with her rod, making one wonder how she even got through the cave in the first place. While she starts with 10 MP, she bizarrely knows no spells to cast.

You might also be noticing a pattern with the dialogue.. a lot of it repeats a few key points over and over, and honestly leaves little room for interpretation. As such, I think it would be wiser for me to start summarizing scenes and only highlighting some notable sentences when necessary.



Having a second party member finally lets us access the Tactics menu. Charge is supposed to make the team fight aggressively, Fight make them fight normally, Reserve make them conserve resources like items and mana, and Guard make them defend themselves. Honestly, none of them matter though, since Manual lets you have direct control and is often better for decision making than the other options.

The only other thing of note in this cave is this bizarre room:



I have no clue if this is supposed to be us on a cliff top, or some otherworldly landscape in the depths of this cave, or perhaps a rendering error.

Well, this cave was pretty dull when we had one party member, and with two it's honestly not even worth mentioning. Time to leave!

Quote
Steiner: Artur, it's getting dark. We should hurry back home.

Will do, but that will have to wait for next time!
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01, September, 2021, 02:55:35 PM
Daddy Poi's Oily Gorillas: At least for warps.
01, September, 2021, 02:55:01 PM
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28, March, 2021, 06:10:33 PM
Salanewt: Tiny announcement down here that a new animation pack is now available for download! The Animation Overhaul is required; see the downloads page for more details.
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30, October, 2020, 11:10:23 PM
Salanewt: ... Actually, it's almost time for me to post an update on the forum. It's been coming along really nicely overall, and it was only a couple months or so ago that I added some new status effects to the game.
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19, August, 2020, 07:00:17 PM
Salanewt: That's awesome! I'm pretty good; been working on an AI Overhaul project and have made some nice progress in the past couple weeks; the goal for tonight is to add Deadbeard to GS2 and then I can move onto something new.
19, August, 2020, 01:14:56 PM
Awec: Ye not bad, just checked back in for updates on GS Reloaded really. Although now I'm looking back through some of my old forum posts, which is fun :D how are you?
19, August, 2020, 01:43:07 AM
Salanewt: It sure is! How have you been?
16, August, 2020, 09:40:57 AM
Awec: Yo nice to see this forum is still going
14, August, 2020, 09:06:44 PM
Salanewt: Hey! How goes it?
01, August, 2020, 01:31:53 PM
KyleRunner: Hello, people!
08, July, 2020, 08:57:11 PM
Salanewt: That awkward feeling when almost a quarter of a year goes by without anyone posting a message in this chatbox.
27, April, 2020, 07:54:10 PM
Daddy Poi's Oily Gorillas: I'm having a thought. So I know Atrius's editor is slow at saving sprites.... So I've been thinking.   I am considering another console program.  This time, for importing and exporting sprites/animations. Image files (for sprites), binary files (for animation data), and maybe binary or text files for Settings. Would certainly be cool if it works out. - Console programs are fun, when you can (at least temporarily) cheat out making a full interface editor for them. =P

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