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Archive for March 2017

5 Months Resume

March is over. Since tomorrow I will radically change shift schedule at irl job so I don't know yet how heavily this will compromise progresses for Serenade. What I can write now, though, are how things went during these five months I worked 6-8 or 10-12 hours per day on this game.

First of all, it didn't went as planned : D It never goes, right? No matter how optimistically you plan your deadlines, there is always a sprite that won't draw right, a background that won't background the way one initially thought, etc. And it's totally normal : D

Back in November, after several prototypes, I started the definitive version of Serenade. I first learnt how many hours a full background art would have taken, I noted down the things to improve, what part of the programming or of the visuals I would be missing and several other things. It was like a research period, during which I managed to complete 30% of the demo in length, 50 or 60% in assets. So what has failed the original plan? That's a resume:

  • I was supposed to complete scene III within Feb 15th.
    But I'm finishing the coding right now, and I'll be working on it for part of next week as well.
  • I was supposed to complete scene V within the end of April.
    I was so happy when thinking about this achievement! Finishing scene V would have meant coding more than I ever reached in my prototypes. So I felt excited imagining how those new scenes would have looked like. But nope. I will work on scene IV for all April and part of May. So we'll talk about scene V way later, in June.
  • I was supposed to start working on the Tokyo arc by the second half of June.
    Being thing this way, it may happen in July (but this is a minor issue, since the Tokyo arc is part of a second release of the demo and won't bother the development of the first one).
As you can see I'm quite late. But I learnt this is how game development works so I guess it's okay. : 'D

Second CG

During March I've painted 4 background art while going on with the coding as well. The last art I painted will work as a CG scene and it depicts the car accident that caused Kairi's amnesia. 

As said before, this picture will be the reference for the event, shown throughout the game. It's a "shot" taken from Kairi's memory, but since he's suffering amnesia, it's the memory he built inside himself, combined with some photo he saw in the news (Of course he experienced the accident in first person and not as a witness). Since he's the protagonist, even when it's some other character the one who tells about the accident, Kairi rebuild the scene inside his mind in a similar shape of this one and the player sees it through Kairi's mind. So the variations of this CG will follow the same point of view. (Of course Kairi would like to remember what he actually saw on that day, but that will be a totally different CG : >)


What is a visual novel?

To conclude, as I wrote in the title, I'd like to spend my two cents on what I think it's a visual novel. Lately I've been confronting with this topic a lot while writing and coding Serenade

I used to draw doujin manga and for what I could experience, manga are similar to cinema or plays for what concerns direction. Unless is a story full of dialogues and logic, manga is fast and every scene has a purpose, adding something more to the story or to the relationships of the characters. First four scenes of Serenade are a sort of prologue and I myself want to finish them as soon as possible to start the real game :'D. The reason why I'm still stuck at scene III is not only I'm busy painting all the assets I need, but also because this urgency I'm feeling is preventing me to give its right place to every single part of this game. I feel uneasy if dialogues are too long, if there's no practical content in them and such. I'm more for "say few and pay attention to how you say it". In other words, take care of body language, words to pick up, etc.

Anyway, I'm used to play visual novels and I don't find them slow or anything. The fact is the even if a dialogue doesn't make the story progress considerably, or if you have to follow your character to their daily routine from morning to evening and still waiting for a change of pace to happen, you need to know about what you want to talk about and talk about it! There will be a main plot, a list of events that will occur and also the way you are telling your characters and the environment they're living into! I don't know if it's correct to call it "subplot" but, well, it's something I'm paying attention to right now. To sum it up, the prologue for Serenade is growing longer than I had planned, but it's still very concise and doesn't digress evidently. Still, it looks less like a screenplay : D

So, for me, the basic difference between a visual novel and a faster paced media is that in visual novel, besides experiencing a plot, you also enjoy your journey with the characters. This is probably the same thing you do in different games as well. : >


Next week (1-9) I'll work on a brief game tutorial, on the choice screen and I'll also complete scene III. See you!

After a month of BG painting / What is a visual novel?

I've been editing the 3rd in game scene this week as well. It's not completed yet and, honestly, I'm kind of taking my time to write it as I wished it to be. 

As I wrote in last week post, this is a scene where the player is introduced to many new information regarding the first situation they're going to face and make choices about. Also, even if very short, I need to give a wide introduction of Teru and his personal story as well. I don't mean it to be a sort of monologue in which he tells his past, neither I want Kairi to ask him an interview. All I aim to make happen is a natural dialogue between the two in order to let the player grasp the mood. Easier said than done, eheh.

While focusing on this task, I'm also working on a new CG scene. It will be used as a background too, but you'll first see it as a recurring CG.
So here's the background lineart, a central street in Tokyo:

And here's the CG line:

So, yeah, um, a track turned on his side and an ambulance... This CG is the car accident in which Kairi lost his memory. I don't want to say more here, it will be discussed a lot during the game. Anyway this CG will contain half of the key to Kairi's past. During the game there will be shown a second version too, very similar to this. The differences between the two are another important clue to solve the story. Since it will be used throughout the game I'm putting a lot of care in it.

Next week (24-31) I'll hopefully complete scene 3 in writing and in CG : D In last week post I wrote I would need two CGs for this scene but I'll work on the second one later in the development since I need to define some assets first. See you at the end of the month, then : D

A recurring CG in the game

Coding for scene #03 is a bit late, actually. Writing this scene has been more complicated that I thought... Since I started working on Serenade I re-wrote it from scratch who knows how many times. The reason is that through this scene you get to know what's going on in Kujikawa and take action according to what you feel about it. Moreover, I know the story and how it ends so clearly that it has become difficult to step into the player's shoes and catch mistakes I may have done. In short, nothing very new about writing, eheh.

Coding apart, this past week I finally completed the backgrounds for Kujikawa. I still need to work on their variations. Anyway, the basic files are done.



Next week (15-23) I'm going to work on scenes #3 CGs, which are two pictures that will be used throughout the game. Even in this case I plan to work on the basic files and add variations later. See you ✧ʕ̢·͡˔·ོɁ̡

Kujikawa, more background art

March is the last month I can have part time shifts at job, therefore with the 31st of March my "full throttle session" of game deving will end D: Since April I will work 8 hours per day most of the week and this cuts the time I can work on Serenade quite drastically. Touristic season is about to start in Venice and I will have to wait until next winter to have more free time again and still being able to pay the bills ahah.

The dev week that has just ended was really short, only five days. I had different plans for it, to be honest. Originally I wanted to complete all the backgrounds for Kujikawa streets. In the end it turned out I used these five days to refine the two I already had soft colored. I wasn't really satisfied with the outcome I was getting so... I decided to give a try with "digital acrylic paint" (well, it's what looks like to me anyway). It's nothing very professional, I warn you. I just used my intuition but I can't wait to find some book to learn properly!

I'm working on Kujikawa at sunset time at the moment and I obviously will need these backgrounds for other times of the day, but I plan to complete the variations later, when working on the next scenes. Therefore, even if I'm completing them to code the third scene of the game as soon as possible, I will reserve some time later to add further details. For example I haven't painted most of the shadows yet. I guess I'll study shadows at sunset a bit before eheh.

Background #01 is still under coloring, so I'll post the #02 which I will code at the present state:

With this choice of coloring I hope to make indoors and outdoors a bit more closer in style (indoors are made in 3D render, remember?), I'm still experimenting though ^ ^.

Finally, I'd like to talk about a detail you can see in this picture that is related to the story. I'll keep drawing the moon even in daily light in Kujikawa sky because depending on which time of the story you are playing, you may be able to see it or not and this is deep connected to the flow of events. There will be a Kujikawa with a very clear sky and one with foggy and dense one...! That's all I can reveal for the moment : D

Next week (6-14) I plan to code scene 3, so it's time to complete backgrounds (#03 is on the way as well) and fix the writing as well as coding. Have a nice week : >

Kujikawa background art #02 ready

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