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Heart of the OHR Contest 2020 
 PostThu Apr 30, 2020 9:29 pm
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Heart of the OHR Contest

2020 Edition

Here we go again…

…for the sixth (and final?) time!

Announcement Trailers:

In early March, as a new addition to the Heart of the OHR family of announcements, I released a teaser video for Heart of the OHR 2020 in “The Window Is Coming” thread to prepare you for the coming window.

Today, I am releasing the official trailer, hopefully to trigger your inspiration. But be warned: It’s a little insane and may also need an epilepsy warning. I’m not sure. If you’re not worried about that, then hit “play” and get inspired (or get a psychological disorder, as that’s a possibility, too).

A Brief History as Written in 2010:

For those familiar with Heart of the OHR, feel free to skip down to the rules for a reminder of what was, and a taste of what will be. For those who are uninitiated, please read the following history lesson. Or don’t. Your choice.

HotOHR 2010 Thread wrote:
It seems that as times change, interests start moving in new directions, and the things that first captured our hearts and attention about indie-RPG design had since faded into obscurity.

Toward the end of the ‘90s and the early part of this decade [2000s], RPGs were king, and were incidentally, the only thing the OHR was capable of making. And then, as the decade continued, RPGs became less common, less desired, and soon the rate of releases made on the engine went from a sprint to a crawl.

Then, in about 2006 or 2007, the limits of the OHR began to change, and new life formed. Sidescrollers were now not only possible, but easier to make. Puzzle games, menu-based games, and even street fighting games were beginning to surface in droves throughout the course of three years. And during this time the course of the OHR RPG began to fall. RPGs were released on occasion, but the presence of one became rare, and almost surprising. And even then, the likelihood of it being a joke game was high. No, the integrity of the epic vacation gave way to a cheap day-trip, and by 2009 the nature of the RPG had become nearly absent.

[In June 2010], Surlaw and I were discussing the disappointment of creating huge games, which translates to many, many hours of development time (read: three years or more for some games), that people refuse to play because it requires them to fight random battles (that aren’t titillating 100% of the time), or read text (of any length), or spend more than a few hours of game time in order to finish it. Authors who put the level of time and attention that goes into a quality game, just to have it go unplayed because of an unwillingness to read (for example), are highly disheartened, and certain OHR gems have gone unfinished because the author experiences What’s-the-Point? Syndrome.

This, of course, has contributed to the huge decline of RPGs—and especially in the quality RPGs—in our opinion, and that should be shocking when one considers we’re a community focused on an RPG making engine.

Even James Paige once expressed a slight disappointment in the gradual reduction of games that actually use the default features to, you know, make an RPG.

That is what the OHRRPGCE was made for.

Now, this isn’t to knock the surge in alternative gaming styles. I loved Slimes. The games released for the 2009 8-Bit Contest were brilliant. But look at how many good RPGs came out in 2009. Okedoke, and, um….

It’s hard to say whether the modern RPG is dying or just in a slump, but we’d like to see this giant of yesteryear make at least one more stand in the community. So, I am proposing the “Heart of the OHR Contest,” which is a contest, quite simply, about making the best RPGs we can make with the engine that brought us here in the first place.


-Must be an RPG. This is a zero rule. What categorizes as an RPG can be left open for debate, but at the end of the day it must be an RPG. In 2010, we saw one game stretch the limit of what we considered acceptable (Do You Want to Be a Hero?), and I would argue Silhouette from 2012 pushed the boundaries, as well. In 2014, we basically bent the rule as far as possible with T4R4D1DDL3. In 2016, our winner, Surfasaurus was hotly contested for its interpretation as an RPG. In the end, I ruled in its favor. And, well, in 2018, I said “screw it” and let games like Asphodelus and Px in because, by that point, who cares? What you consider an RPG may differ from what someone else considers an RPG, so if you’re not sure, then defend your case for it! You might beat the naysayers. For a complete list of the games that made the cut in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018, consult the following link:

-NonRPGs not permitted (See Above).

-Joke games not permitted (though funny ones are okay).

-Special scripting is okay (as long as it doesn’t turn the RPG into a nonRPG).

-Games must have at least 30 minutes of playtime with a good chunk of that devoted to story (in other words, 30 minutes without level grinding).

-Updates to previous RPGs permitted and even encouraged.

-Updates to previous RPGs need at least 30 minutes of new content to be eligible. Changing a textbox to an old two-hour game and re-releasing it doesn’t make it eligible. Same goes for graphics overhauls. New playable content, people!

-If you are posting a rereleased game for the contest, you must provide either a readme (or some document) discussing where the new content starts (if it’s a continuation) or what the new content is (if it’s integrated into earlier previously released sections), or you must supply a save file that begins the game just before the new content kicks in. If you fail to do this, your game will not be entered into the contest.

Note: I prefer the former since it’s clearer what’s new, and it discourages players from beginning your game halfway into the story.

Important Note: Historically, players are really bad about investigating new content and often replay the old stuff and vote on that without ever seeing the new content. This really skews the results at the end of the contest. This is especially true of long games. If you are submitting a rerelease and you care about doing well, please, please, please be abundantly clear about what’s new and give your players every possible incentive to play to the new stuff. This means improving the first 30 minutes of the game if necessary. This means making the whole game as fun and amazing as possible. Don’t turn your players off early or they may never get to the new content. Remember, just because you provide a save point or obvious information about where the new stuff begins and ends doesn’t mean your players will use it. If they end up just voting on the same stuff they played five years ago, your points may not count. Think about the whole game.

-Fan games and parodies discouraged, but not forbidden. Original stories preferred.

-As the only exception to the must-be-an-RPG rule, you may alternatively release a game that’s “in the spirit of 1999” and still be eligible for entry. This means that you may emulate the kind of game that was made for the OHR between 1998 and 2000. This rule was made possible by T4R4D1DDL3, so consult that game to see this rule in action.

-Like last season, I’m accepting almost any RPG type you can think of this year. This includes rogue-likes, walking simulators (with stat progression and level-ups), Zelda II clones, 3D mazes, etc. If the OHR can make it, and it still has classic level and stat progression, and there’s still a story attached, it should qualify. Use your slice collections and stat displays! Use your fancy animations! Use your procedurally generated maps with seeds! Just make it great! However, I do think the essence of Heart of the OHR has been fading since 2014, so even though I will accept most any game that qualifies as an RPG, I will be strongly encouraging designers to stick to the classic design for 2020. Certain games that bent the rules in seasons past may not get the greenlight this year. You can always ask if your game is eligible before you commit to it for this contest (and you shouldn’t be making a game just for this contest, so that should be a non-starter), but generally your safest bet is to design a classic RPG with the latest OHR features. That’s what I’d like to see this year. Want to put in that alpha transparency? Do it! Want to make a Defender clone with occasional stat increases? Er, maybe hold off on that one (unless there’s a lengthy campaign, great story, and really compelling stat gains attached).

-With platforms like Steam making it possible for indie game designers to put their games up for sale, we are beginning to see an uptick in OHR users designing their games for commercial use, including those that involve licensed characters like Kaiju Big Battel and Axe Cop. Any game released for commercial purposes can still participate in the Heart of the OHR, but either a key, or a demo, or some alternative agreement should be provided to players if it’s to enter the voting stage. Keep it accessible!

-New Rule for 2020: Make sure we know how to find your game. This should be intuitive, but with the OHR popping up on multiple sites and platforms and becoming more commercially competitive, it’s easy for games to disappear in the noise. If you’re releasing to Slime Salad, then we should find it easily, as this is the first place we look. But if you’re releasing a version to Steam,, or some other platform exclusively, make sure you alert your potential players (and me!) to its existence. Likewise, it’s a good idea to let me know your intention to release a game to Heart of the OHR 2020, anyway. Otherwise, I’ll have to email you about it at the end of the window, and that can slow things down come voting time. Lastly, I will no longer cross-post these announcements to Castle Paradox, so if you post your game there and not here, I likely won’t find it unless you tell me about it.

RPG Release Categories:

In 2010, every entry was lumped into the same category and judged under the same conditions regardless of originality versus the rereleased. In 2012, they were divided into three categories: Original, Rereleased, and OHR Legends. In 2014, they were separate categories, but shared the same vote. We continued this trend in 2016 and 2018. We will be continuing this trend in 2020 but will also be adding a new category to account for a new type of game: the Remake.

Original and Rereleased Games:

Original games are the games that have never been publicly released prior to May 1, 2020. These are the easiest to judge since the ground is fresh. We had eight original entries in 2010, including the Game of the Year winner (Motrya), 13 in 2012, nine in 2014, 11 in 2016, and 17 in 2018.

Note: These games just need to come with a Coke and a smile.

Rereleased games have been unleashed on the community before May 1, 2020, and are making a second-life appearance in the Heart of the OHR Contest. Any original game that was released for the 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, or 2018 contests will automatically default to this category if reentered for 2020. In 2010, we had four rereleased games. In 2012, we had three. In 2014, we had one. In 2016, all games were original. In 2018, we had four.

Note: These games must include documents or save files that inform the player where the new content can be found. See the rules above for more information.

OHR Legends:

This special category is reserved for the games that have been submitted as rereleases in previous Heart of the OHR contests and resubmitted this year as “legendary” contestants. There are 12 games eligible for Level 1 Legend status and two (Vikings of Midgard and Okedoke) eligible for Level 2 Legend status. In addition to a potential win, these games also get a “level badge.”

New for 2020: The Remake:

Now that the OHR has been around for over two decades, the time has come for older classics to get the remake treatment. Because these games are completely overhauled from their original versions, it’s unfair to call them “rereleased,” as they are not the same game. At the same time, they’re not entirely original. So this category will give them a comfortable place to sit. They should be judged as originals, played from beginning to the 30-minute mark or beyond, even though they’re familiar.

Classification Update for 2020: Typically, I’ll categorize a game as a “rerelease” if its original release happens before the contest window. I also hate trying to determine a game’s originality under this pretext, so I will likely bend categorization a little to include any game first released in 2020 as “original.” A game must still have a new release or updated release within the window to qualify for the contest, but I will classify it as “original” if its first official appearance happened in January 2020 or later, and was not first released for another contest. Any game released for an earlier contest (before May 1, 2020) that gets rereleased for Heart of the OHR 2020 will get the “rerelease” classification and will need the supplemental materials outlined in the rules section to qualify.

Release Dates:

Unlike traditional contests, “Heart of the OHR” will not require a start time or an end time per se. Rather, this will adopt the “release window” technique made popular with Game-a-thon, in that any RPG released within the window is eligible (provided it meets the above standards).

Window begins May 1st and ends December 31st, with a one-day grace period for special cases and accounts for time zone differences.

Traditionally, I end the contest in November and allow a two-week grace period for bug-fixing (Note: this grace period is not reserved for adding new content, unless that new content is required to fix a bug or to tie a loose thread). This year, I’m including the bugfix period as part of the deadline and extending it through the holidays, so try to have your games done by November 30th and bugfixed by December 31st. Entries must be ready for voting by 6am EST, January 1st.


Voting will run from January 1, 2021–February 28, 2021. That gives you two whole months to play these games! Make it count.

Note that I will not close voting until I have a minimum of 10 votes, so if the deadline comes and goes and I have fewer than ten, voting will remain open until the minimum is met. I want all contestants to have a fair playthrough and comment/critique/score for their games.

The way we handle votes will be the same as in the 2014, 2016, and 2018 contests.

For full details on how it was before 2014, consult the following post:

How Voting Works-

Five-point Average: Any game that falls short of the peak vote target range will receive however many fives it takes to reach the two-thirds margin.

Peak Vote Target Range: Identifies the game with the most number of votes and uses its vote count as the determinate for the contest average.

Two-thirds Vote System: Caps the required voting minimum at two-thirds the value of the peak target. Any game meeting this minimum cap will not receive additional fives to pad its average.

Note: I have an Excel sheet that simplifies this process (which I used to score the 2018 season). I will be releasing this spreadsheet for public use after this contest is judged and the results are posted.


Note: New Prizes for 2020.

Because RPGs are harder to come by these days (especially in contests), I thought it’s only fair to combat the odds with prizes that don’t suck. Therefore, various members of the community have agreed to give special bonuses to entrants and the winner.*

Anyone out there can add to the prize pot if he or she has something to offer, so feel free to help make this into a treasure trove of winnings if you want to, and if you have the resources for it.

Specifically I’d like to see:

-cash prizes
-fan art
-theme song about the winning game(s)
-gifted games

You may view talked about prizes or add to the prize pot discussion here or in the “Prize Pool 2020” discussion thread.

I’ll update the prize list here as new prizes are offered. New prizes can be added until the end of the contest.

Potential community-offered prizes include:

(Service Prizes)

-Video playthrough of all games (up to the first 30 minutes, or more if I’m enjoying the experience), to be posted on my YouTube channel.** (Pepsi Ranger)

-Livestream (separately) the top five winning games from start to finish on Baconlabs's Twitch channel (achinlabs), providing commentary and critique along the way, pending creator comfort to public review. Possible livestream blitz of lower-ranked entries at 5 to 30 minutes each, also pending creator comfort to public review. See this post for details. (Baconlabs)

-“Draw a thing” in pixel or crayon, according to the winner’s preference. (Bob the Hamster)

-Some art or poetry (perhaps). Note: This seems nonspecific and may need more clarification. (SwordPlay)

-Front page advertising on Slime Salad for the winner. (Mogri)

-HeartBugs feature requests and bugfixes. Available to all entrants. No need to request any feature or bug from the 2018 list as those are still getting worked on. Full details here. (TMC)

(Food Prizes)

-None yet. Entry awaiting participants.

(Stuff Prizes)

-OHR Mousepad (one left!) for the winner. (RedMaverickZero)

-Free copies of any e-book with my name on it (my actual name) to all entrants.*** (Pepsi Ranger)

-Physical trophies for winners. (Spoonweaver)

(Game Prizes)

-Product on Steam Wishlist (up to $60 value) for first place winner. (Baconlabs)

-Steam game ($5-$10 value) for first three to five winners. Note: This prize may default to a cash award of the same value. Consult this message for details. (SwordPlay)

-Pepsi Ranger’s Steam Favorites for the winner.**** (Pepsi Ranger)

-A copy of the commercial version for the OHR game of your choice (first three to five winners, to be satisfied each month one or two at a time until June 2021).***** (Pepsi Ranger)

(Cash Prizes)

-Cash award of $20 to the cash pool. (Bob the Hamster)

Note: This list will remain open to new prize additions from now until December 31st. I will update this list as I get new volunteers.

Special Prize for OHR Legends releases:

Any game categorized as an OHR Legends release will receive a special trophy classifying it as such. This is strictly a prestige award, but it will remind future players of the game’s longevity. This trophy will receive “levels” each time it’s awarded to a specific game. OHR Legends releases should still meet the 30 minutes of additional game time rule to be eligible for the trophy.

Note: Until I get someone to draw the trophy and Mogri to provide a location for it on the game’s dedicated page, this trophy will be in spirit only. I know, lame. We’re working on it, ten years later! (Full disclosure: No one’s really working on this, and I’m posting this message out of tradition.)

So, as you can see, it would be crazy not to join and make something for the Heart of the OHR Contest, so take the chance.

* Because prizes are awarded by members of the community, and because community members come and go like the wind, all prizes are subject to change.

** I reserve the right not to record a game or post it to YouTube if I think the content is unsuitable for my channel. This will include games with excessive cursing, any sexual content above a PG-13 level, excessive gore, offensive themes (or anything I think will anger people, which could be anything these days, so I’ll use discretion), demonic themes (this is a personal choice, as I do not want this theme on my channel), or games with unlicensed content (commercial music, characters, etc. used without permission).

*** This prize is backwards compatible with previous Heart seasons and anyone who has entered a Heart of the OHR from any year and has not collected this prize (per entry) may still take advantage of this prize. Each entry is good for one book, so if you want two free books, then submit two entries (or collect on a previous entry from a previous year that you have not yet claimed).

**** Prize is conditional on my financial status as of March 2021 and may be satisfied over the course of two or three months rather than immediately. This prize is based on my running favorites on Steam, and will include either Kenshi (currently $30 value), Factorio ($30), RimWorld ($30), Prison Architect ($30), or Stardew Valley and Terraria combined ($25 value). I may include more than one of these games if the prize is satisfied during a sale and these games qualify for it (Factorio and RimWorld each have a “no sale” policy, so that will not be paired with a third game). In the event that the winner already owns these games, I will make a substitution of equal or lesser value. Also note that my actual list of favorites will contain more options than these. This is just a sample. I’ll discuss it with the winner when the time comes.

***** Must have a Steam account. I’ll award the first five winners if my budget allows for it.

Approved Games So Far:

Because every year produces one or two controversial titles that ends up in a debate about eligibility, I've decided to post the names of games I've already approved for entry, regardless of how closely or not they adhere to the RPG standard. Creators of these games may hold me to account that I've agreed to accept these games into the contest:

Tim-Tim 2 (Spoonweaver)
TutOHRial (Nathan Karr)
Katja's Abyss: Tactics (Kylekrack)


Release the best game you’re capable of making. The community doesn’t want to see or play throwaway titles anymore. Do your best to make a quality game. While you shouldn’t be intimidated by this, you still need to be aware that games like Wandering Hamster and Motrya are just as capable of making an appearance during the contest window as any game, so make it your best if you want the winning prizes.

Have fun. Please use this thread to announce your RPG releases starting on May 1st. And I’d appreciate it if this thread were stickied until the end of the year. Thanks.

I will update this thread periodically as new information comes. Good luck, everyone.

Oops, One More Thing:

As stated at the top of this thread, and in other threads related to Heart of the OHR since the 2018 season, there’s a good chance this will be the last one I host. Although nothing is set in stone, and 2022 may still happen, I should note that hosting this contest, while enjoyable and rewarding, has taken a lot out of me, especially during the voting season, and I don’t know if I want to keep hosting. If you’ve always wanted to participate in Heart of the OHR but never found the time or motivation, this will be the best year to do so.

That said, if anyone out there wants to host in 2022, we can have a discussion about it as that season draws close. If my batteries are recharged by then, I’ll go ahead and do the next one. If not, I’ll either be looking for a substitute host, or I may defer Heart of the OHR to the annals of OHR history. We’ll see when the time comes.

In either event, I’ll be putting together a ten-year retrospective of the contest’s entire history sometime in 2021. If you’re a previous first- or second-place winner, I may contact you at some point for assistance.

Just wanted to give you guys the head’s up.

Again, good luck, and I hope you win.
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Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostFri May 01, 2020 4:58 am
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I should've thought of this earlier, but I didn't, so I thought of it now. I've added a new entry to the release category section.

In addition to Originals, Rereleases, and OHR Legends, we now also have the Remake.

I'm expecting at least one entry to fit into this category this year, but maybe we'll get more?

Information about this new category has been added to the guide in the post above.

Once again, good luck.
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Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostFri May 01, 2020 6:58 pm
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Axe Cop will be done by Thanksgiving. Soda Piggy and I will enter it into the contest unless us having started it 3.5 years is a dealbreaker.
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Chemical Slime
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 PostFri May 01, 2020 7:16 pm
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RedMaverickZero wrote:
Axe Cop will be done by Thanksgiving. Soda Piggy and I will enter it into the contest unless us having started it 3.5 years is a dealbreaker.

everyone who was considering entering just started quaking in their boots
"Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters:
united with reason, is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels."
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostFri May 01, 2020 10:48 pm
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Nope, not a deal breaker. I think most of us were expecting to see it this year.

By the way, as usual, you guys can talk about your games here if you want. There's no need to keep any secrets (unless you want to).

Also, sticky thread?
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Liquid Metal King Slime
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 PostFri May 01, 2020 11:33 pm
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Thread Stickied!

Will there be enough new Wandering Hamster content for it to qualify this year? Your guess is as good as mine! :D
Metal Slime
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 PostSat May 02, 2020 3:48 am
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I'm going to need some new screenshots for the game entry.
I have a .zip for False Skies [Demo 3] ready to go, but want to do the unthinkable and have people playtest it before throwing it on the gamelist.

Never mind, I'm extremely hasty. Here's False Skies.

As for my heartbug request... er, a bitset that prevents movement when running from battle? I know I could use the other forcing-the-battle-to-end functions, but I'm pretty sure those would require a bunch more tags so that you don't run out on a boss or the like.
Metal King Slime
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 PostFri May 15, 2020 3:07 am
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Whoops, sorry for missing this.

How would a setting to not run off the screen work? You hold down ESC and after a random period of time the battle ends immediately? Should the heroes still turn to face the right and walk in place?

I assume you're only talking about heroes, not enemies, since you can set an enemy bit make it flee or not. And since you already have a choice of attack bits to make heroes either run off the screen or escape instantly, I suppose it shouldn't affect those attack bits either.
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostFri May 15, 2020 3:17 am
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I think the point is that if you have a hero arrangement in battle that isn't the standard "lined up on the right, facing left" perspective, the heroes moving rightward before exiting battle doesn't look right. Honestly, what would be great is an easy way to add an "Escape" option to battle menus. Holding down escape to run isn't entirely intuitive anyway.
Ps. I love my wife
Metal Slime
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 PostFri May 15, 2020 2:27 pm
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This looks a bit silly, and the other leaving battle attack bitset passes through the unescapable bitset [which is fine, seeing how it not doing that would mess other things up substantially]
You can give attacks the 'Force battle loss & heroes run away' tag to have a non-Escape button run functionality; think that's the only way they work nicely in turn-based battles, even.

Thinking about things more, either a new attack bitset ('Force battle loss & heroes run away [instant]', maybe?) or a general game bitset ('Heroes run away instantly'?) could work.


Anyway, given the response to my demo, I could probably do with a punchier intro of some sort. What I have in mind requires building out the game a fair bit more, though, so don't expect me to do anything substantial on that front anytime soon.
Liquid Metal King Slime
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 PostFri May 15, 2020 3:12 pm
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Wouldn't it be cool if the running animation could be optionally replaced with a dissolve? :D
Slime Knight
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 PostFri May 15, 2020 3:36 pm
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Looks a bit silly

What do you mean? I imagined the characters saying "Exit, stage right!" whenever they fled. By design!
Metal Slime
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 PostSat May 16, 2020 12:16 am
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Bob the Hamster wrote:
Wouldn't it be cool if the running animation could be optionally replaced with a dissolve? Grin

Or a "beam out", assuming one was making a sci-fi game ;3
To friends long gone, and those I've yet to meet - thank you.
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 PostSun May 24, 2020 6:04 am
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Been waiting a long time for this contest to come back. Not sure why, but this contest gives me the omph I need to actually sit down and 'do a thing' and actually work on a game. I have a few ideas for either adding new content or making a new game I've been thinking of. I'll see what I can do in terms of making them a reality.

Also, heartbug, thats where we request a cool feature we'd like to see added right?
Liquid Metal Slime
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 PostMon May 25, 2020 3:13 am
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Welcome back, Crimson!

As always, whatever you decide to do, do your best. And then do better than that.

Also, heartbug, thats where we request a cool feature we'd like to see added right?

Correct. TMC is handling those this year, so make sure you request something insanely epic that will take years to implement modest and reasonable so he can catch up on everything and clear his heartbug plate this year. Or, whatever you want is fine. He'll let you know if it can be done.

Have fun!
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