2015 Retrospective

 Interactive Fiction, Planet, Serial Fiction, Visual Novels  Comments Off on 2015 Retrospective
Jan 012016
 

2015 saw the releases of Fairly Dangerous, the second version of The Mishka Effect, and Nowhere Near Single. The former two titles were ported over to the Google Play Store (and even have HTML5 versions over at Sandbox Adventure). The latter ranked 14th place in the 2015 IFComp and won me a spectacular pair of pajama pants.

Thanks to Kailoto’s assistance and proofreading, Everything Around a Bridge is on the very edge of being released…if I’d just let go of the project already. After all this time, I’m still the only thing that’s preventing it from getting out there. I’ve got some personal reservations about it.

I’ve got another project that is just about done and is going through some finishing touches. It’s more of a mini-game type of experience – something light and silly. I made it for school over the summer and my classmates thought it was funny, so… trooper6 was nice enough to clean up the code for it, and Jojo from leveretta dev.’s making the GUI for it. Anyway, I’ll write more about it when it’s closer to release!

Our NanoWinter project, SNO Place Like Home, from around February 2015 hit some snags, but we’re pulling it together. It’s not abandoned. I haven’t given the project the attention it deserves so that it can be finished. Getting it finished in time for the end of Winter 2016 is a nice thought…

Other projects grounded to a halt. There wasn’t any significant progress done on any of my longer-standing WIPs. 2015 was a busier year than I expected it to be. It was also the year that I’ve started to come to terms with certain things I may touch on in a later blog entry. I struggled a lot with self-doubt about whether or not I can “make it” as a creator/writer, and if this is something I’m still capable of pursuing after all this time.

As a result of those things, I only managed to get one full visual novel out there. Since I’ll be working on Redwood Crossing, my interactive serial, I’m expecting that I’ll have even less time than I did in 2015. The team from Fairly Dangerous plans on reuniting for Nanoreno 2016, so you’ll see at least one visual novel again from me in 2016. I’ll also make more of an effort to keep this blog updated this year. I can’t believe I only updated it twice last year!

Thanks for the support, everyone who’s reading this. And if you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to Redwood Crossing so you won’t miss the release announcement. New chapters will be released weekly. At the end of every chapter, readers will be presented with a choice on where to take the story next. RWC should be starting mid-January, so see you there when it starts!

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!

7MiB Rough Draft Sort of Finished!

 Planet, Visual Novels  Comments Off on 7MiB Rough Draft Sort of Finished!
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!

Everything Around a Bridge

 Planet, Visual Novels  Comments Off on Everything Around a Bridge
Dec 042013
 
indigo_girl_by_shilkefair-d6t3mfu

I think it’s about time I blow the lid off of this project. A few months back, I posted a Recruitment thread looking for help with a short kinetic novel collection. Two of the most awesome people I know stepped up to help (Moya and leon) with the coding, GUI, and a lot of other things. Then Moya brought in shilkefair to do the sprite work. It’s a tiny project, but I really appreciate everything the three of them have done so far.

Since I’m extra late on this blog update, I’ll post two sketches of characters from the project! The stories are all self-contained with the bridge setting as the common thread. (Aha, so that’s why it’s called Everything Around a Bridge! So clever, so clever.)

rickda_by_shilkefair-d6ua0n6

His finished sprite looks a little different, but this is Rick. His story is told from the perspective of his twin brother, reflecting on their past and how they grew up as two completely different people. I originally wrote this story as part of an Image-based Writing Request for Hijiri of MESI Games so I give him my thanks, as well. Speaking of which, I should probably try writing in that thread again.

indigo_girl_by_shilkefair-d6t3mfu

Here’s Indigo, a fellow high school student that Soyeon, the main character in the “Indigo” story, passes by on the bridge. Although they go to the same school, they’re from two separate crowds. I’ll hold off on showing off her finished sprite for now, heh.

This project’s made me come to the realization that from now on, I should finish rough drafts of scripts before I start looking for artists. It’s better for me to wait until the writing is mostly finished. It makes the work go by faster. I’m going to put that theory to the test again in the next couple of months with the project I alluded to in this entry. I’m sitting on 80% of a detailed outline right now. I’ll let you all know how that process goes.

‘Til next time!