Dec 312014
 

*blows the dust off of the Ouroboros Connect blog*

Hey, everyone! Happy New Years. Inspired by other developers doing the same thing, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look back on 2014. Our output this year was definitely better than 2013’s. At the start of the year, I wrote a post where I said, “I want to diversify what I can do and really grow as a writer this year. On the visual novel development side, my challenge will be to release 3 things in 2014.” Did that happen? The first sentence did, but the second one…not quite.

In April, we completed Nanoreno 2014 and released The Mishka Effect, our time travel adventure-comedy. Then, the weekend of Halloween, we participated in Asylum Jam 2014 to finish and release Saving Zoey in 48 hours. Both of those projects were triumphs for different reasons. I’ll forever be proud of both of them. A second version of The Mishka Effect is still on course to be released some time in 2014. We haven’t forgotten about that, don’t worry!

To prove my skills as a writer, I started getting into interactive fiction writing. At the end of June, I participated in a narrative game jam and released Draw Everything You See That’s Mine and Yours. It was surprisingly well-received, managing to get #3 overall in the jam. A month later, I made a solid attempt at a genre outside of my comfort zone for IntroComp. It was called Mount Imperius and honestly, it didn’t do so hot. You win some, you lose some.

Taking what I learned from those two Twine attempts, I decided to enter the 2014 IFComp. I gave myself a rule: don’t hold anything back. Write whatever comes to mind, no matter how horrible it might be. This resulted in Venus Meets Venus, which pulled 13th place out of 42 and the unofficial Silver Banana of Discord (second highest standard deviation of votes). The response for Venus Meets Venus has been amazing. It made it onto Forest Ambassador (and won Best Numeral Exegesis, haha), was mentioned in a podcast, was described as a champagne and tiramisu breakfast (yes), got praised by one of my IF idols Emily Short, and continues to receive nice feedback. I read every review I can find.

It may have been emblematic of the problems that many people have with Twine but people seemed to enjoy it despite that. IFComp was truly a wild ride. I think you have to have a thick skin to participate in it. It can be tough to see your work get completely trashed. And believe me, VMV had its fair share of getting dumped on. The thing is, you can’t take any of it personally. You have to look at the negativity & the criticism, and learn something from it. Focus on the most useful parts of the criticism.

What I’ve learned is that if I do IFComp in 2015, I’ll be creating something with more interactivity and a little less poetry. I’m also going to start and finish my project much sooner than I did with VMV. Who knows? Maybe I can start practicing with some parser projects throughout 2015 so I can throw my hat into the parser ring. We shall see.

Overall, I’m proud of what I did throughout 2014. I didn’t release 3 visual novels, but I released 2 visual novels and 2 pieces of interactive fiction (Mount Imperius was only an introduction so I’m not counting it). I survived 5 jams/competitions. Wow, I just realized that I only released works that were meant for jams or competitions. Oops. Well, they’re good motivators for finishing things!

2015

The problem with doing all of these things was that it came at the cost of my works-in-progress. I’ve got three that are definitely in the pipeline for 2015.

Everything Around a Bridge: this was a project that was meant to be done in 2013, oops. The writing has been finished since then and hasn’t been touched. I think it’s under 6000 words total? The artwork’s all done. The GUI might need to be revamped. Sprites need to be coded into it. If I wasn’t so hesitant about it, it could have gotten released around November. There’s just something that it’s missing. I think I have to get over myself and release it already.

7 Months in Between: the first draft of the writing is all done. Both routes have gotten alpha feedback. The sprites are finished. It needs GUI and an extensive amount of photography done for the BGs. There won’t be any CGs because I can’t afford them. Editing is 0% done unless I’m forgetting something. In that case, it might be like 3-5% done. For some reason, I have a lot of issues with this project. The other day, I actually ranted on Twitter about needing a personal assistant to see it through. If I got my act together, this project could EASILY see the light of day late Summer 2015.

Besides, how much longer can we deny the world of Gus?

In This Dream of Ours Remake: Honestly, I dropped the ball on this one. The sprites are done. Haven’t started on GUI designs, BGs, CGs, or any of that. I’m taking way longer on the writing than I thought I would. I think I underestimated the amount of work required. Turning it from a KN to a VN took a tremendous deal of effort. That being said, it’s the longest visual novel I’ve ever worked on to date. I’m pretty sure it’s going to more than double the word count of 7 Months in Between when it’s all done.

YEAH! Cheer us on, Yasahiro, as we make it across the writing finish line!

Game Jams in 2015?: I’ll be doing NaNoWinter 2015 with some of my The Mishka Effect teammates so expect to see something new from me by February 1st. Nanoreno 2015 will definitely be happening, so that’s something else for April 1st. I’m expecting to do IFComp 2015 as long as I have the time for it. Other than that, I’m not sure! I’ve definitely got to get EAB, 7MiB, and ITDO ’15 out the door so they’re going to be taking higher priority.

I’d like to repeat my 2014 resolution for 2015: release three things in 2015. Here’s to 2015 being even better than 2014 was!

Chugging Along

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May 142014
 

You know… I need to stop being so tight-lipped about what I’m working on. Since it’s not an immediate need, though, I’m going to keep holding off on showing off the in-progress art for the visual novels I’ve got in the pipeline. School continues to be the bane of my existence, especially with finals (lots of presentations and papers) looming in the next few weeks.

I have a schedule for the summer that should give me a bit more time to work. Problem is that I signed up for a creative writing class for the first time ever, so I expect that to require a huge chunk of attention. I’m actually kind of nervous for it. I’ve never even been in a face-to-face writer’s circle before. This is going to be interesting. I’m hoping to get a lot out of the course! If I can, I’ll share my work for that course here and on my Deviantart account.

I wrote roughly 3000 words for In This Dream of Ours, including the first choice of the VN. So, it’s official, the conversion from choiceless KN to choiced VN is going to happen. Surprisingly, writing went rather quickly. I think it might’ve taken me an hour or two to write that much. Imagine if I had a whole day that I could dedicate to ITDO.

Art’s going great for 7 Months in Between. I still need to apply the feedback that I got to the script. Concept arting has also begun for another project that won’t be released for a while. I’ve also been toying with the idea of recruting for a GUI designer for ITDO. My current game plan is to get the In This Dream of Ours remake written up, then move back to fixing 7 Months in Between’s writing, and then move on from there.

By the way, Wednesday’s now going to be update day. Tuesday doesn’t work for my schedule anymore.

Moving Along

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May 012014
 

I’m sorry I am a few days late on this update. Honestly, because of my night classes, I’m having trouble sticking to a consistent updating schedule.

I’ve received some good feedback on 7 Months in Between. I think I am getting a better idea on what to do about that route that’s been left open. Art’s been moving along steadily. Once I’ve finished the new route, I can show the game to my editor, get GUI & music, and start hunting for backgrounds. It’s going to take me a long while to photograph all the parts of the city that I need. Getting the right photographic angle is going to be a pain, too…

I started doing some writing for In This Dream of Ours. I’m wondering if I can do the writing without an outline. Probably a terrible idea. For now, I’m just trying to improve the original script while marking off places where choices could be. I think I’ve got an alright GUI concept design in mind. Don’t know if I should move on with getting the GUI in place yet, though. I want the script to be done before I start looking around for help with that.

I’m working on some things for The Mishka Effect Version 2. Still discussing the possibility of a new ending for it.

All in all, things are going well. School and life are both keeping me busy. I’m surviving.

Research Shmesearch

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Apr 222014
 

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks doing research for the In This Dream of Ours remake, in order to make it more historically accurate. Rather than it being set in an alternate version of the dawn of the Edo period, it will be set during the actual era. I’ll take liberties where I have to, but gone will be the vague mentions of East versus West, and Emperors that never existed.

Upping the realism will improve the story. In the 2012 version, Kouji, a farmer-turned-warrior fought in the Battle of Sekigahara. If you cut through the fake reality, you’d know that he fought for the Western army under the Toyotoomi government’s flag. The story doesn’t tell who his commander was. Could’ve been Ishida Mitsunari. Could’ve been someone else. What helps determine that is the province that Kouji’s fictional farm village is in.

Then, there’s the question of where to place Saitoumura, the setting of the story. It couldn’t be too far from Sekigahara for story reasons. Dependent on the province and which daimyo (feudal lords) ruled over it, the village would have gone through an entire story on its own. This story would’ve affected how Hitomi, Yasahiro, and Tadashi are.

We learn in the 2012 version that Hitomi and Yasahiro’s father frequently went away to battles. Under whose name? What were these battles? How exactly did that affect their upbringing? Raakel, the artist for ITDO, helped me determine that they would have most likely made their money from peddling wares and trinkets brought back from the skirmishes their father fought in. Money would be tight. How does that factor in?

And then, there’s Tadashi, someone whose family would have been able to afford to send him to a temple to learn how to read and write. Hitomi would’ve become literate through different means. In the 2012 version, Tadashi mentioned that his father taught him how, but in 2014, the story changes in order to more fully reflect his upbringing. He’s the son of textile merchants who have a decent amount of steady wealth. Did this have any effect on the deterioration of his best friendship with Yasahiro? How does his comfortable lifestyle contrast with Hitomi and Yasahiro’s? Is pacificity a trait meant only for the well-off?

I’m doing this remake project to explore those questions. I’ve become entrenched in research to dig deeper into the setting and give a better picture on who these characters are. Unfortunately, the more research I do, the less time I’m spending on what I need to do to get this story finished.

Last night, I came across some great advice from an article on writing science fiction. While ITDO is far from sci-fi, the article still had advice that rang true. It actually said to Avoid Research (funny), except for when you’re in the brainstorming or rewrite stage. ITDO 2014 isn’t just a rewrite of the 2012 edition. It’s going to have choices this time. A first draft doesn’t exist yet beyond a bunch of notes and pages and pages of historical research.

At this rate, I could spend months perfecting my research, when I should be writing the story. Is it going to kill my story that I don’t know where to set Saitoumura at the moment? Is not knowing Kouji’s commander some sort of stop sign that shuts down my writing process entirely? Nope. It shouldn’t be. My primary concern should be on the plot and the characters.

Yes, research is good. I’m not saying it’s a terrible thing. I’m just saying that I shouldn’t let historical accuracy concerns slow down my writing for this project. I should shift my attention on forming a concrete outline detailing the routes. From my work on 7 Months in Between, I know that when I have an outline, my writing flies. From writing this blog entry, I’ve already gotten some more ideas for what I want to do with ITDO. The gears are turning.

Yasahiro_yeah2blog

This is Yasahiro! I’ve got a million things I could say about this guy. I definitely love writing him. He’s loud, opinionated, driven, and yet…immature and more vulnerable than he’d ever admit. I could go on and on about Yasahiro, ah. I find the way he relates to the three other characters the most interesting out of all of them. I love this guy, haha! Raakel brought him to life perfectly.

I am also going to move on ahead with finishing the writing for 7 Months in Between. I still haven’t been able to figure out what I am going to do for the John Mark-centric route, so I’m just going to send the script off to people for some pre-alpha text feedback. I want to know if I am taking the story in the right direction. Am I actually meeting my goal, or am I fooling myself into thinking that I’ve actually written a more mature otome story?

For people that are new to the blog, 7MiB is my story about a May/December relationship and the May (23 year old woman) getting to know the December (38 year old man)’s 15 year old daughter. She learns how to become the mother she never had. She does this while trying to become a hip hop producer working alongside a local rapper.

If you are interested in giving me feedback on that story, then contact me via the “Contact” page on this site. I’ll edit this post with a link to a formal thread soon.

Also, don’t forget you can connect with ouroboros[connect] via social media!

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, & Google Plus are all within reach. 😀 Pressing the like button or following me is very helpful, thank you!

Getting Back on Track

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Mar 062014
 

Wow, where does the time go? It’s been weeks since I last updated this blog. Oops! I’ll be back on track with the weekly updates starting this Tuesday. Just because I haven’t been updating though, doesn’t mean things haven’t been happening.

I’ve officially gotten an artist for 7 Months in Between. I won’t say who it is yet, but, the art style’s the perfect look for what I’m going for with the story. I still have yet to finish that additional route. The writing progress for 7 MiB has to halt because of my involvement in not one, but two NaNoRenO projects this year.

(For those unaware, NaNoRenO is basically the visual novel making equivalent of NaNoWriMo, or a one-month visual novel jam. It happens every year during March. Expect lots of cool games on April 1st!)

I’m doing a route for Elysian Days (link leads to its thread on LSF), a Centaur Otome game. Ever wanted to ride off into the sunset with a centaur? Now you can (sort of)! My centaur’s the rich, work-averse one. Look forward to seeing this game in April! I’ll talk more about it throughout the month.

The other project I’m doing is The Mishka Effect. It’s a time loop visual novel! To quote the LSF thread, “Mishka Florentine’s been having a bad week. He’s got an eviction notice on his apartment, his friend Veronica Blast won’t give him the time of day, his new co-worker’s giving him the creeps, and he even narrowly avoided being killed by a bloody stranger.

When he finds a shack in the woods that seems to put him back in time by three days, he thinks he can turn all his luck around. …But things aren’t always that simple when you’re playing with time.”

I’ll save my progress talks on both of those projects for Tuesday. As a side note, once both of these projects are out, I’ll be 2/3rds of a way towards completing my visual novel New Years resolution. XD

7MiB Rough Draft Sort of Finished!

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Feb 052014
 

Sorry for missing last week’s update. By the time everything settled down enough for me to post, it was already Friday. I come bearing good news that should make up for that.

I’m going to push back the In This Dream of Ours remake’s release date for time and financial reasons. It’s not worth it to rush things for a May release. An extra couple of months will give me more time to save up for more of the assets. I underestimated how much I would need for the backgrounds. I’m expecting a late summer release.

happyhitomi

A happy Hitomi sprite, just to celebrate~

Everything Around a Bridge is moving along. I’m thinking…maybe late Spring? I hesitate since I might want to add a couple NVL-mode stories to it. The word count’s rather small. It might be overkill to add any more, though. As always, the sprites so far are looking niiiice.

I finished the rough draft for 7 Months in Between a few days ago! My playtester (hehe <3) confirmed that I should add an alternate path, so I’ve still gotta do that. I’m contemplating recruiting someone to help me figure out what the story’s missing. The script needs a lot of fixing in its current state, but now that the tracks are all laid down, the first editing phase should go smoothly. I’ll call in for script support once I’ve done my own editing to it.

Here’s the lint for the first version:

The game contains 2,824 dialogue blocks, containing 32,457 words and 169,259
characters, for an average of 11.5 words and 60 characters per block.
The game contains 29 menus, 0 images, and 12 screens.

I’m going to use this week for recruitment thread preparation and a minor amount of editing. My chief focus when recruiting is to find people who are after more than the dollar. They need to like the script and feel invested in the project, otherwise we’re not going to be a good match. I’ll be releasing the script (probably sans alternate route) with the thread in order to entice people into helping out.

7 Months in Between is a female-fronted story about an aspiring music producer’s May/December relationship, set against an urban backdrop. As she gets to know her boyfriend’s daughter, she finds herself becoming the mother she’s never had. Or, at least, that’s one way (and the way my playtester chose) to play through the story. :)

I can hear the storm already brewing outside. The ice is going to be nasty this time. They say there could be power outages lasting days for some people. Hopefully, I won’t be one of the ones affected, but if I am, I’ll be offline for a while. Let’s hope I’ll avoid the worst of it!

Pfffftt

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Jan 212014
 

Last week, I managed to reach 23,653 words, which was a 7,421 word jump from the week before. Let’s see if I managed to complete my challenge!

Statistics:

The game contains 2,550 dialogue blocks, containing 29,478 words and 153,671
characters, for an average of 11.6 words and 60 characters per block.

The game contains 27 menus, 0 images, and 12 screens.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to. I made it to 5,825 words. So close! But not far enough. This was mostly because of the weekend that I had…which eventually ended in glass all over my apartment floor. Long story.

I reached a part of the script that I realized should’ve been a choice. This is good since it gives me a chance to further expand things in the story, but bad because it will increase development time. The way it originally was was way too out of the players’ hands. The players’ previous choices weren’t having enough of a bearing on Vivi’s choice.

I think I’ll use this “add-on” route to expand on John Mark’s character a little more. Maybe something that delves into the hip hop scene way more? I don’t think it will take me that long to outline it out. Since I don’t want to lose any steam, though, I’ll keep working on the rest of the script. I reached Ending 9 out of 13 today so there isn’t that much to go, thankfully!

After it’s all done with, I’m going to have to do a second and a third pass through to fix up as many of the problems that I can. Resisting the urge to self-edit’s been tough…and as if my body was punishing me for doing it, I accidentally cut myself on the glass. Now I can honestly say that I’ve lost my hearing, messed up my eye, and BLED for this visual novel (okay, not purposely but…you know…a lot of strange things keep happening).

I guess the real challenge for this visual novel is me finishing up the first draft of the script by February. I really want/need to get this entire project finished Summer 2014. Ergghhh.

See you next week!

Challenge

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Jan 152014
 

I swear, ever since I started writing for this visual novel, weird stuff keeps happening to me. I recovered from the ear problems only to get an eye problem. My left knee’s beginning to give out. I guess someone out there must REALLY want me to stay inside to get this writing done, haha. Hopefully, my eye will get better fast and my knee doesn’t get any worse.

Time for the main event. The lint statistics! After one week, let’s see how well I did.

“The game contains 2,048 dialogue blocks, containing 23,653 words and 123,171
characters, for an average of 11.5 words and 60 characters per block.

The game contains 22 menus, 0 images, and 12 screens.”

So that’s a jump of 7,421 words since last week. Not too bad, considering I couldn’t write every day last week. I finished the eighth ending today. I think there are five more? I’d double check the outline, but my laptop’s trucking. My challenge for next week is to either write more than 7,421 words or finish the rough draft script.

I’ve been thinking about how to pitch 7 Months in Between. A hip hop producer struggles with a Positive K situation while balancing her blog, her May/December relationship, and her December’s kid.

…Not quite. That makes John Mark, the rapper, come off pretty bad…he’s nowhere near as persistent (thirsty!) as the song. When I say a Positive K situation, I’m talking about I Got A Man…which is now stuck in my head. Thaaanks. Let’s try that again.

7 Months in Between is about an aspiring music producer who’s stuck in a menial office job and spends her time writing a May/December relationship blog. One day, Vivi’s boyfriend, Gustavo, hits her with a whammy of a statement: “my daughter wants to meet you.” Vivi then must face his standoffish daughter Sidney, while trying to determine if she’s going to stick with Gus for the long haul.

Is Vivi ready for such a serious commitment? And what about that rapper she’s been working with, John Mark AKA JM Brave? And, what exactly is Gus hiding from her?

Slightly better pitch, just way too long. I’ll figure something better out. Names are subject to change. These are the four main characters for the visual novel.

* Vivian “Vivi” Sanders: our Protagonist! 23 years old. She came to Philadelphia for school from some Pennsyltuckey town and then never left. She’s been producing tracks since she was young, but John Mark’s the first rapper she’s ever worked face to face with. Uses blogging as a way to de-stress (don’t we all, girl?).

* Gustavo “Gus” Rojo: the Boyfriend! He’s fifteen years older than Vivi, making him 38. An artificial intelligence engineer. Loves geeking out about random sciencey things.

* Sidney Rojo: the Boyfriend’s Daughter! Fifteen year old jerk. Haha. Actually a decent artist. Takes art classes at an arts university in the city.

* John Mark Matapang: the Rapper! His rapper name is JM Brave, and he’s somewhere around Vivi’s age. He’s a Spoken Word artist turned rapper. Friendly and confident.

Hopefully I can finish with my rough draft soon. I can’t wait to find an artist to bring these four to life. I love seeing how other people interpret what’s on the page. Heh, it’s funny how “tiny projects” can become so big, so fast. This was originally going to be something super short and now look what it’s become.

See you next week! We’ll find out if I can beat the challenge. :)

Making Progress

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Jan 082014
 

Hey, everyone!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know why I was unable to update last week. I had a horrible ear infection in my left ear and a minor one in my right ear. The left ear was so bad that my doctor had to put a wick in it. A wick is like a cotton cylinder. It was put there to absorb the antibiotics, since my canal was so badly infected it was impossible to see my ear drum. So, for my entire vacation, I had to deal with the deafness and pain. Itchy pain inside of the ear is the worst.

On the 3rd, I braved the snow and got the wick removed. I’m now clear. Yay. Back to normal for me! I’ve never appreciated music and sound as much as I do now.

I’ve been keeping myself busy with writing for 7 Months in Between. Last time I updated, the lint file was roughly 3000 words. And here it is now, two weeks later:

Statistics:

The game contains 1,445 dialogue blocks, containing 16,232 words and 84,779
characters, for an average of 11.2 words and 59 characters per block.

The game contains 17 menus, 0 images, and 12 screens.

I’m nearing the end of this “branch tree” of the game. The other side is heftier. At the rate I’m going, though, I think the first draft, first pass version will be done by early February. After that, I’ll post the script on LSF to find art and coding help. Oh, and also a poet and other random help. I need an artist that’d be good with the story’s urban setting.

Speaking of poetry, I’ve been thinking of getting back into the DA lit community. I don’t have much in my Gallery right now, but I’m going to try to make more of an effort to write flash pieces. I want to diversify what I can do and really grow as a writer this year. On the visual novel development side, my challenge will be to release 3 things in 2014. I’m sure I can do it.

See you next week!

Onwards to Writing

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Dec 242013
 

First off, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.

Late Saturday, I finished the outline for 7 Months in Between. I spent some time on Saturday writing it. I’m happy to say that the technique is working so far! It took me a month to outline everything, but the writing’s going pretty fast and in control. Here’s a lint for it:

The game contains 242 dialogue blocks, containing 3,078 words and 16,418
characters, for an average of 12.7 words and 68 characters per block.

The game contains 5 menus, 0 images, and 12 screens.

I haven’t worked on it since then, mostly because of holiday stuff. The outline reached 6500 words by the time I was done with it. It’ll be interesting to compare the finished script to the length of the outline. It could be the holiday spirit but I am very happy right now!

Sprite work has been going great in regards to In This Dream of Ours. I’ll save showing off any for now.