Innkeep - Serve Ale. Be Jolly. Rob Your Guests.

Hi Game Maker people!

I posted about this project a couple of years back, but its pretty out of date now. Time for a fresh thread.

I'm using Game Maker to create a micro-CRPG / sim called Innkeep. It's a bit of Ultima 7 style classic CRPG, meets a modern day-by-day narrative survival sim like This War of Mine, with thematic ideas taken from Les Miserables (think, the crafty master of the house character, Thenarndier).

Basically, I wanted to try and capture elements of what I like about CRPGs (narrative progression, interesting characters, the feeling of being in a world), but with a static location. The idea I had was to have a game set in that classic RPG location, the humble inn, where you are the one wearing the apron, and the people of the world come to you. You serve them food and drink. You tell them about recent rumors, and maybe share a joke or two. You hire bards to play music and keep everybody having a good time until late. And then you rob them. In their sleep. A little bit...

The game will have some light sim elements. You need to manage your stock of food, drink, firewood and candles. There is serving to be done, and you will need to do a bit of "creative" cooking. But the core focus of the game is really about "looking after" your guests. In the evening while serving, you are on the lookout for identifying which guests you want to try and steal from in the night. You need to eavesdrop on conversations, observe them at a distance, and use your silver tongue to try and wheedle out some clues. Once you have your mark, then, in the dead of night you can let yourself into their room, prying open backpacks, wiggling rings from fingers, slipping chains from necks. If you have done your job properly, they should be far too drunk to notice a thing. And with that extra cash you can keep this show on the road, despite the difficulties of wartime scarcity.

The idea is not to force you to play a mustached villain, but to have a bit of fun, and at the same time to try and push you towards having to make choices about who you will or will not rob, and why (a bit like with Papers Please).

Ever since I started part time work on the project a few years back I've kept track of my progress via dev diary videos on youtube. Maybe check out an early video to see where I was starting from (like, can-use MS Paint but don't know what a layer is computer drawing skills), and drop in on the most recent video to see where things stand today. It can help you get a sense of how far I've come, and what kind of game it is shaping up to be. Then if you are on twitter, consider giving me a follow. I also have a site for the game here, (although I'm still in the process of upgrading it so it might be missing a few links). I'll keep an active eye on this thread so I can answer any questions you might have, but I also have a discord channel if you want to chat more directly. Finally, you can learn more about ongoing development and get access to extra stuff like music tracks (by John Halpart) at the Patreon page.



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Basically, I wanted to try and capture elements of what I like about CRPGs (narrative progression, interesting characters, the feeling of being in a world), but with a static location.
I like the idea, and the graphics are spot-on for this kind of game.
Good post. I'm glad you've thought about your game so much. I enjoy "thingyness" in games too, even though many of my favorite games ever don't make it a priority. I love when games give a feeling that you're living there, or make you wish you could live there. Good luck with your game. I think you might find a sizeable, passionate audience. =)
Hi all. This week I was fortunately able to focus on the project full time.
So I have quite a lot to show. ;-)

I added the ability to light and blow-out candles (close up)

And finally got round to integrating the ambient lighting system with my localized lightmaps.

This means I could finally achieve cool effects like this and also like this.

With the system ready, I added lightmaps to all four of the tables, and also to the bar.

Then I did the fireplace as well.

I did a little more marketing work, and created a patreon image for twitter.

And I linked up the light created by candles and the fire to the strength of the glow in the windows of the inn at night in the GUI time teller bar.

I jumped back into the fire, cleaning up some of the code to get an improved look.

And then I made it possible to spawn guests into the game using a debug menu.

After that I refactored the code handling light maps so that it would work with the guests as well as the player. Here we see the guests lit properly.

I also took some early simple steps in animation, using some proper pixel-art animating software, pyxel edit.

Here's my first animation in game. A simple two-frame breathing animation.

And here I've taken a GIF where the guests are standing in different light sources. If you look closely, you can see that they share the same flickering effect as the light source they are next to.

Next I worked on a basic shader that would hightlight guests when you mouse over them.

This mouse-over code needs to be fairly clever, as because of the perspective of the game it is possible for objects to overlap, like guests with other guests, or guests with tables and such. (In that GIF, you can see that only that guest which is currently "on top" is highlighted for a given area where the cursor is. Basically, each object over-writes a single dedicated "currentlyselected" variable with its ID. As this is done in the draw code, and because things further back are drawn first, this sequentially over-writes the variable, with the last drawn being the one on top. The game object then takes that ID, and uses it to go inside the highlighted object, and switch it "on" as highlighted. This is reset every step.)

Going a step further, I linked up the highlighting system with the basic GUI conversation window I set up earlier.

Which brings me to the icing on the cake for this week, the barrels under the bar. This is one of those silly aspects of design that I did before I thought to study references. Why would you have barrels under the bar, where it would be practically impossible to pour a drink? It makes no sense, and it also takes up bar real-estate that I could use later for storing candles, spirits etc. So, time to move them up top. Problem being, the existing sprites, while looking OK, were quite flat. This was hidden to an extent when they were in the shadows under the bar, or in the cellar, but I couldn't use them on top of the bar. Time to create entirely new ones. Three, in fact. Each with a slight perspectival difference.

The other thing I wanted to do was to re-think how the barrels fade away, showing the level of drink inside. Instead of cutting away just the front, and showing a "flat" image,I decided to cut them in half, revealing the geometry. This looks a lot nicer, but, once again, required a lot of work. This was three unique sprites, each with some 50+ odd sub-sprites. This job alone took up pretty much an entire day. >< But the effect was pretty good. Here's the barrels fading to the cutaway variants. And here you can see the wine inside, and how it will look as it drains overthe course of a few evenings of drink serving.

And here is my feeling at the end of this week.... ><
Hi all. It's time for dev diary #16!


- Player walking animation.
- Working candles
- Shadowmap - ambient light integration
- Spawnable guests linked to a dialogue window
- the sexiest barrels you ever did see
- less waffling!


New animations look great! When did you start working on the game? Is it your first GM project?


I really like the intro scenery. However, the mountains could be 1d colored, the snow on top of them can be taken away. The mountains color should fit into the mood of the sky imo. I really like the graphics in this game. Good job!

Edit: Btw, a thing you can do with my software Shadowforge is paint on a photo with 0.03 color alpha, and it will make it 1d (might have to use the gameboy shader first).
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Why do you start outside the tavern? Doesn't seem to add any gameplay. Maybe you plan to add more towns?
Thanks Neptune!

@ mikix - Sorry, what does 1D color mean?
"The mountains color should fit into the mood of the sky imo."
atm there actually isn't any sky texture, just a default background color. Thanks though!

@ YanBG - "Why do you start outside the tavern? Doesn't seem to add any gameplay. Maybe you plan to add more towns?"

The idea is to help establish the situation and the setting. The inn is in a wilderness area, and you are approaching it as a hungry stranger.
The rest of the exterior of the inn will also be used during game play for collecting firewood and water. As well as for some other story stuff.
Hmm.. OK, so more of a pixel art style? I will have to check it out. But for now I'm going to put environmental work aside (spent a few years just on the interior construction already ><) and focus on getting a working demo done.