"Can't we just get another ship?" "No way."
Both games were designed and created simultaneously over 5 weeks.
Follow the origin story of aspiring — and broke as hell — space adventurer Robin Steele as they dream of beautiful skies to traverse. Learn about the vast Whirlpool Galaxy, venture through the seedy downtown of Aurora, and punch an annoying wolfboy bully in the face!
The main protagonists of TFTG: Grounded — Star Captain Robin Steele and Tallesa Ocampo, their first mate and engineer. (maksn, 2020)
Created in Twine (Sugarcube 2/HTML), Grounded details the 7,000-word origin story of aspiring space captain Robin Steele and features a turn-based RPG battle system.
Inspiration usually strikes me in the form of characters first. Before creating the sci-fi universe of TFTG, I wanted to create a non-binary character who would serve as a cool-headed protagonist.
As a fan of Japanese and Japanese-inspired science fantasy stories, I decided that Robin Steele — a name inspired by Fire Emblem: Awakening's clever tactician and the ever-vigilant Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect trilogy — would be a small, but fierce Russian white cat-person.
A variant of Robin's captain outfit (left) and their casual non-animal/modern universe form (right). (sorixa, 2020)
From there, designing Tallesa Ocampo (full name: Maria Tallesa Ignacio Ocampo) was easy. I drew inspiration from my own background as a Filipino-American, then imagined her personality as a stark contrast to Robin's, making her the more fun and headstrong one of the duo. As a fun contrast to myself, I also wrote Tallesa as an elf who is naturally much taller than the average Filipino. Additionally, no one in the TFTG universe recognizes the word "Filipino" as all of its inhabitants are from the Whirlpool Galaxy, other than Tallesa, who does come from our Milky Way Galaxy.
Robin Steele's personal Codex, which displays information of relevant characters.
After finishing the character designs, my love for the "bubblegum cyberpunk" aesthetic punched me in the face. I wanted to evoke the same vibes from one of my favorite games, VA-11 Hall-A, so that drew me to design a fun and odd sci-fi world. I adjusted the color scheme of the Grounded UI using the built-in Sugarcube 2 features to evoke the "bubblegum" part of "bubblegum cyberpunk."
I designed Grounded knowing exactly where Robin started and where they ended, but I wasn't sure how to tackle the middle parts. I first introduce the player with exposition to ground (heh) the player and illustrate the universe.
The battle system starts off simple but gradually gets more robust after each battle Robin completes, much like gaining EXP at the end of an RPG battle. I figured out the middle bits — battling Sheila and the Slime King — once I decide to focus on the JRPG-like aspect of Grounded.
This character and the universe they hail from make another appearance in my cinematic script, "Fun Tonight."
Help this grounded space captain fly at my itch page!