What Happened To The Gladiator Project?

This is a question I’m asked frequently – especially lately – and it is one for which there are multiple answers. In order to respond then on why TGP was put on hold, I’d like first to delve somewhat into its history.

Origins and History

When TGP was first conceived, back when RM2K was all the rage, I started creating a simple game based around fighting in a gladiatorial arena. Back then it was simply called Arena. The project was quickly abandoned due to RM2K’s limitations; there was just not enough scope – even with advanced eventing – to achieve precisely what I wanted to achieve.

With the advent, and subsequent (unendorsed) translation of RM2K3, my interest in TGP was rekindled. The project title was changed to Arena Gladiatorium, which was an expanded version of its original hack-and-slash concept. It had a sense of renewed purpose, fuelled primarily by RM2K3’s rich features and versatility. I also had a clearer vision on its direction.

Arena Gladiatorium was halfway finished – replete with customised graphics, a unique Custom Menu System and a fertile storyline – when disaster struck. A virulent, insidious virus attacked my system that eventually destroyed my hard drive, and I lost it all! Or so I thought at the time. Suffice to say that the project died, along with my interest.

Marital Hiatus

I stayed away from the RPG Maker scene for awhile, except to produce tutorials and minigames, and focused on writing instead. One of the writing projects was a set of short-short stories under the umbrella title Ars Mechanica. I’d written about a dozen in total, some of which had very distinct gladiatorial undertones. In time, I settled down and got married and they were thrust aside.

As fate would have it, Arena Gladiatorium was not completely gone, as I was able much later to extract about 90% of the project and its material from the near-dead hard drive they were stored on. I then uploaded it to somewhere online as an additional backup so no matter what it would not become lost again. Married life took precedence and there the project stayed, all but forgotten about.

At the same time as discovering the archived materials, after this long hiatus of marital bliss, RMXP had just been released. I downloaded a copy of the trial version and once again became instantly hooked on RPG Maker. Back then my knowledge of Ruby and RGSS was nil, so I took it upon myself to learn as much of it as I could through various sources.

Renewed Interest

It so happened that the first game I started creating on RMXP contained a scene revolving around fighting in an arena, which was elaborated within the game as the project continued.

RMVX was soon released, so the game was ported to this RPG Maker, despite its limitations and omissions. The gears shifted once more onto the arena scene and the skeletal formation of a gladiatorial arena emerged, returning to the simplistic original concept of the one initiated with RM2K3.

Inspired by this change of direction, I reopened the original RM2K3 archives relating to Arena Gladiatorium. The theme for a game based specifically on gladiatorial games, with the slant on the Roman ludii, emerged. The underlying plot developed after I watched a movie – I can’t remember the name of it now – and the foundations for TGP were laid. Following several intense plot twists, the project itself was born proper.

Development on the game progressed quite well for awhile, but the well started drying up, slowly but surely. This was not actually caused by any lack of inspiration or imagination, but the full realisation of RMVX’s tileset limitations became apparent. Aside from using the ambiguous Tileset E or one of the Tileset Swapper scripts (which I don’t think were available then), there seemed nothing further I could do. Again this dampened the enthusiasm though it still didn’t dry up completely.

Eventual Decline

The integrated menu system still needed attention, too many kinks and cross-script incompatabilities, and although proficient enough in RGSS/2, my knowledge of it was still limited. I couldn’t quite manipulate it to its full potential. That aside, it was also a little over-complicated and integrating the different scripts – achievements, factions, arena levels and ranks, experiential titles and names, and a quest log – became overwhelming.

Never any good at spriting or creating world map graphics, etc. only some of the original charsets were converted and used. Taking all of these things into consideration, enthusiasm for TGP started waning. At the same time, however, I was elaborating on some old plot ideas for a novella – or maybe a series of novels – entitled Ars Magica. Concepts for the game – retitled Ars Magia, and perhaps later renamed to Ars Mechanica – started burgeoning. Development of the tie-in novellas started forming therefrom. But that’s another story entirely.

TGP’s Future

I have not entirely abandoned TGP; it’s been put on hold for an indeterminable amount of time. Once the entire Ars Magia project – both novellas and first game, Genesis – have been completed, work on TGP will continue again.

This time, though, the project will be reconstructed (probably even rewritten) for RMXP, taking full advantage of the ability to use multiple tilesets and some of the features omitted in RMVX. I’m also hoping to have in-game movies to compliment the storyline.

At the moment, there is no set timeframe at the moment when work on TGP will recommence, but as always I will post on this blog or the TGP “official” blogsite.

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