My name is Stephen Elder
I am currently working on an RPG demo with the ultimate goal of applying to Kickstarter for funding to complete the project.

The demo's official Facebook page.
Likes and comments very much appreciated.

I am available for commission in drawing sprites, battlers and making tilesets for RPG Maker.

All inquiries at:



+ Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing

+ Capable, part-time artist
(pencil sketching, watercolour, digital art, pixel art)

+ Self taught in Photoshop Elements 10 and G.I.M.P 2.0
(and, by proxy, MS Paint..)

+ General understanding of programming principles
(self taught the basics of C++ - made a functioning calculator and "guess the number" game..)

+ Excellent familiarity with Microsoft Office and general computer skills
(though by no means a qualified or even experienced computer technician, I am as au fait as 8 hours a day at my laptop can get me)

+ 24 years of being distracted by daydreams

+ Professional experience in teamwork and team leading within a civil service post


= Fantasy/ Science Fiction/ New Weird/ Cyberpunk

= World building
(map design, location description and detailing, a fascination for weird architecture and nature's more bizarre creations)

= Story writing
(short stories, concept outlines, character descriptions and bios, weapons, vehicles, items, romances, plot structures, rivalries, dreamscapes, lore, armours, magic systems)

= Video Game design
(script, character design, original concept, level design and layout - generally all creative elements)

= Tabletop RPGs
(avid Dungeons and Dragons DM, currently working on the lore and game mechanics for an original tabletop RPG with another writer and an artist. So far it's just a hobby, but serious thought and efforts are planned.)

= Modding
(specifically an old Sierra game called "Empire Earth", I redesign the game textures (.SST, .TGA) and swap model files (.CEM) for my own designs)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


After two-plus years in development, Omnis -The Erias Line's demo is finally available for download. It's been thoroughly beta tested (although there may still be the odd, minor bug) and I'm confident in its quality.

In the run up to the Kickstarter campaign, all likes, shares, ratings and reviews are really important and hugely appreciated. Above all, though, I hope you enjoy playing and experiencing the world of Erias for yourselves.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Release Date Fast Approaching

After all this time, the project's first phase is drawing to a close. The demo is ostensibly finished, the trailer's current iteration is getting positive feedback and promotional materials have been assembled. Coming toe to toe with the day of reckoning, so to speak, has put me in a state of constant anxiety.

     It's been hard to think of myself as a game maker. From inside my head looking out on the world, game making is what other people do. Their projects are actual games, whereas it has felt for a long time like mine is an amateur's imitation. It's a sensation that's difficult to describe. I cannot see how any developer can put more effort/time/work into a project than I have - I've worked solidly for over two years on this two hour demo to make sure it's as polished as professional as I am capable of achieving. I've also been extremely lucky to have talented people around me willing to lend their time and expertise to the project: James Wilson, who has produced an album's worth of beautiful, original music, Kate Bystrova, who as well as providing some gorgeous concept art has been vitally helpful in helping me with feedback and my old friend Bobby MacPherson, who has been a solidly reliable critic and corrective influence on the game's script.

    And yet, despite these merits, my mentality wavers frantically between confidence and uncertainty. There are a lot of high quality projects on Kickstarter (of the indie RPG variety alone) and I am forced to consider what makes my project unique amongst them (and amongst all RPGs in general).

   This stream of thought will need careful fine tuning before it becomes official copy, but here are my conclusions:

  • The title:
"Omnis" is the name of a character that features heavily and significantly in the game's lore.
"The Erias Line" is the name of an ongoing and ambitious construction project that will link the Exclave Peninsula (see below) with the Erias Mainland (see below) for the first time. It does not appear (except by name) in the demo or any of its associated promotional materials, but will play a crucial role in the plot of the finished game.

  • The story:
I am wary of providing any synopsis that strays into the realms of predictable or cliched 'RPG' language - simply because I believe that there are no cliche's in my game. I have striven, in fact, to stay away from tropes and cliches as a core principle of the project's brief.

Orphan and Skyler have arrived in Verdamm City. They have traveled together for years in search of a place to settle and live out their lives - but they find Verdamm to be far less than the utopia that rumours and descriptions portray. 

The city is decaying under the weight of a brutal depression. Mechanisation has made tens of thousands of skilled workers and tradesmen obsolete. The Exclave Kings - a powerful consortium of business interests who have become de facto rulers - have tried to counter the depression with charity and civil works projects. But their attempts to redirect wealth have been to no avail. And now they have vanished without a word from the public square, leaving their less philanthropic subordinates to squabble and compete for power as they manage the Exclave's affairs.

Orphan and Skyler are immediately swept up into this chaos and forcefully conscripted into the Operatives - a vague and secretive network of mercenaries and murderers whose ranks constitute the city's unofficial enforcers. They are given an assignment and told that if they refuse or fail it, they will be killed outright. The Operatives do not risk loose ends and have learned that valuing life is a weakness they cannot afford in these difficult times.

The assignment begins a path for Orphan and Skyler that will set them against events spiraling wildly out of control. 

To survive, they must fight for lesser evils and for each other, all the while enduring the fascination of a strange, unseen entity.

An entity that wishes to test the limits of their love for one another and prove that it can be utterly broken.

My main focus was to create a story where there are no clear heroes and no starkly contrasted, generic evils. I wanted to play with the tropes of the good guys and the villains, exploring motivations and drives and fears rather than polarising all of my characters into obvious, arbitrary categories. This is not to say that there are no protagonists or antagonists, of course. But each has motivations and a back story that elevates them as characters above being simply "the heroes" or "the villains". A main theme is to stretch the limits of the characters' moral courage and relationships and to tell a story where genuinely difficult and ugly choices must be made and all good moments cherished. 

To this end:
- The relationships between characters will be decided by the player, whose choices will be tracked and will influence many elements and events in the story, big and small. I am not including multiple endings based on these choices. I want to provide a streamlined story but give the player the option of pursuing character relationships, histories and secrets if they want. The choices made will therefore influence what new, optional story content is opened for exploration.

- The antagonist is not evil for evil's sake. He is motivated by envy, does not seek domination or power and is not a 'dark lord' figure. I wanted the villain's motivation to be difficult to question despite its destructive, chaotic implications.

  • The game play:

Orphan and Skyler are main characters jointly, and the player will alternate between controlling them during different sections of the unfolding story. To keep the narrative streamlined, the player will only very rarely control one of the other three characters (Dillon, Regan, Nadime)*.

This project focuses on a character driven story, so new mechanics aren't a priority. In the finished game, each of the five main characters will have a unique combat mechanic, but beyond this I am not interested in reliance on gimmicks. Thus, Omnis's game play is that of a classic RPG. Turn based battles, exploration, puzzles, dungeons, side quests. All of these elements are built within the context of the story as it unfolds and nothing is inserted for the sake of it.

*(the demo download will include a 'Project Summary' that outlines characters and setting and the production process. It will also include a selection of artwork and screenshots and other visuals to give a better representation of the project.)

  • The setting:

Erias (the world) has survived the natural extinction of the universe. While stars were fading from the night sky, human engineers were constructing an artificial sun - the means by which the world could be warmed and kept alive even as its star was dying. The artificial sun is not a perfect surrogate, though, because by necessity its position above the planet's surface is fixed.

In the eastern hemisphere, weather and the night/day cycle are carefully orchestrated from the sun's control centre, Solis City. This method is inefficient, however, and the unnatural distribution of light and energy has had some extravagant effects on the landscape. Snowfields have become colder, jungles more voracious. A stretch of land now exists where it rains constantly - and the rain is scolding hot.

Since the artificial sun took over, the remote, unexplored western hemisphere has existed in a state of constant, freezing night. Nothing is known in the east about this region, but it has been theorised that all wildlife, barring the most adaptive life forms, will have died out.


For centuries, humans have existed as nomads, roaming the Erias mainland in search of resources and trading peacefully with other small groups. Just over 80 years ago, a few of these groups made their way across the sea to what would later be called the Exclave Peninsula and established iron ore mines at the base of mount Errum. The resources there were so abundant that they stayed, creating the world's first permanent settlement. The relative ease and security of their lives attracted others and soon dozens of small mining towns had expanded and merged into Verdamm City.

The artificial sun opened a plethora of new technological fields, spurring an industrial revolution. In the space of a few years Verdamm City became advanced and mechanised. The idea of money (known as 'Slips') was introduced for the first time, but this signaled the start of the city's decay. Advancing technologies made many workers, who still relied on their traditional, nomad skills, instantly obsolete. Despite the best efforts of its Kings, the Exclave's currency slowly gravitated into the hands of a few, leaving tens of thousands newly impoverished.

Verdamm (and all of its worsening troubles) provides the opening for the game. 


Another unique feature of the game world is that there have been no wars because there have, until very recently, been no nations to fight them. There are still no empires or rival states that could necessitate weapons development on an industrial scale. Engineers in Solis are beginning to design projectile weapons based on solar energy, but for now these weapons are a show of technology and are far from fully effective.

This creates context for a world where advanced technology exists but where firearms are the novelty province of inventors and scientists. Originally, this choice was made because I really like the aesthetic of swords in a high-tech world, but I have been careful not to shoe-horn anything into this game that does not fit perfectly within the established lore.

On a similar note, I have foregone the inclusion of 'magic' as it is commonly recognised in RPGs. For example: Dillon, the party's controller, uses 'compounds' to inflict elemental damage. My aim is to have every element fit neatly together and while it may be a distinction without a difference, I believe that having grounded explanations for everything will create a better rendered, more realised world.


As I say, these blurbs and outlines need heavy revision before they become official copy, but in this mood of promotion, it feels good to give it away in broad strokes. There's a lot more to say (and in a lot more detail) but I'm wary of info-dumping as a means of promotion and would rather, if it proves possible, that players discover and experience the world of Erias for themselves.

Check out the facebook page (link) above for updates and new information.


Monday, 22 September 2014

Character Presentations 2

I've been working on promotional material over the last few weeks, doing and redoing everything to get as refined a final product as possible. Here are some example pages from the "Project Summary" piece I've been working on - a 19 page document that outlines the game's characters, setting and creation.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Omnis: The Erias Line - character presentation

With the demo largely finished and beta testing underway, I've got time free to start considering presentation/promotion. Above is a test compilation of character art/information/names and such. There will undoubtedly be a number of versions created before I settle on one.


Friday, 5 September 2014

The Erias Line - update

It's been a long time since I posted last. This is because I've been unbelievably busy coping with a burgeoning sense that days are not only not long enough, but getting shorter.

A lot has developed since my last post.

The demo is now finished, subject only to some stringent beta testing and error proofing. I've now moved onto developing a trailer, which has turned out to be a much harder process than I imagined, using Lightworks 11.5.

As the whole thing inches towards ultimate completion, promotion and submission for funding, I feel myself growing more and more nervous. The stakes come into sharper and sharper focus and the rising terror is tempered only by an equal sense of excitement.

It was strange to realise that I hadn't considered other people playing this demo. Of course, that's what it's for - but I'd never taken time to consider the effect this would have on me. The amount of work that has gone into this project, and all of its incumbent risks, have left me with a strong feeling of being exposed. And while I would never hope for false praise, I am obviously anxious for players to enjoy the story, setting and characters unfolding before them in a quantity at least partly equal to the effort that has gone into orchestrating those features.

It's late at night now and I've probably waffled on enough. For your patience, here is a sample presentation of the (finished...) game's five central characters, including the three that will appear in the demo.


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Technical Challenges

As soon as I decided to make my own sprites, and make them larger than the squat, RTP ones, I began to notice problems. RPG Maker has an overlay layer function (star, for the initiated), which allows certain tiles to appear 'above' the character. The effect is the ability for the sprites to pass behind things, but taller sprites interfere with these special tiles:

The problem is not insurmountable, of course, but it does necessitate special planning when it comes to designing maps and backgrounds.


Thursday, 5 June 2014

OMNIS - The Erias Line: Elevator Designs

The freight elevator for the opening scene was the first element of the pre-rendered backgrounds that I created. I have learned a lot of new tricks since then, and wanted to enhance the design. Since I've now finished all of the pre-rendered background resources (the collections of images from which they are ultimately 'built') it feels fitting to complete the process where it began.


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Mocked Up Woodland Scene Tree Test Things

(The resolution is a touch screwed here, but won't be in-game.)

OMNIS - the erias line: Evolution of Plant Life

I have decided, on the advice of friends, to extend the demo to include an extra area. This is to increase the game's 'palette'. Since the first two regions are dominated by metal, brick and other typically dark, industrial textures, I thought the next should be outdoors and natural.

Trees, it turns out, are not as simple to compose as tiled floor textures and sections of wall. The problem lies in finding ways to capture their organic chaos - the arrangement of leaves looks random, but they cannot be compiled randomly without the finished tree looking more like a pile of leaves than a natural growth of them. At first, I tried Photoshop's "noise" filter to generate leaves, but the effect was lacking. The lighting was the problem and, in another valuable step in learning this lesson, I realised that there were no "auto-generate-tree" functions amongst the software's array of filters.

I decided to design clusters of leaves and them arrange them over simple, hand-drawn branch structures, taking time and care with the placement. The trunks were textured last.

The results are good, though the flat, featureless grass texture beneath the trees detracts somewhat from them. Giving the ground 'form' is next on the to-do-list, but here are examples of my trees so far.

 (the fir trees were most time consuming, since each stacked layer of branches required having its lightness minutely edited).


Saturday, 29 March 2014

OMNIS - the erias line UPDATE

It's been a while since I've posted, but not through lack of progress.

The narrative script is nearing completion of its eighth iteration, with many new inclusions that I'm both pleased with and excited about. The daily precession of odds and ends that need attending to doesn't seem to end, though every session of work I put in constitutes another step towards the project being finished.

The screen shot above is of the menu screen, and includes one of my more recent additions. Namely, that of the icon for the status effect "sadness", which RPG fans will already be familiar with. In my project, Sadness hampers the accruing of AP as well as reducing the amount of EXP received from a battle if the status is still in effect upon victory.

I'll make more of an effort to post frequently, though whilst I'm focusing on the script there won't be much in the way of visual updates to present.