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Archive for May 2017

I think this update will be delivered a day earlier than planned : D Well, it's only because tomorrow I'm too busy even to find some minutes to write... |||orz

The busiest month of my year has finally ended. Many things happened, to me it looked like it lasted three months X'D So, I'm happy to be back to my usual routine and dev tasks!
Since the last update I was able to work only for two or three days, therefore this will be a very short post. However, even if it didn't produce many tangible outcomes, this week was precious in a lot of senses. First of all, taking distance from my work and reflect upon my time management helped me find the weak points of my schedule. I think that from now on I will have a different organization in terms of daily planning. I'll talk more about this when I have enough experience. Anyway, I realized I spent way too many hours taking care of details to a maniacal extent... Time for a revision ^_^.

To conclude this update, here's the "otaku girl's room" background finally completed.

Next update will be on June 7th. Until then I think I'll focus on graphic assets, more background and a new CG. See you!

The "otaku girl's room".

Finally back from hiatus and kicking! : D I hope that you enjoyed my last post about storytelling, I'll continue it someday soon! I apologize for my English, I'm trying to improve ^ ^" 

About latest updates, well, I finished "Hospital CG" from the previous dev journal entry, and started working on the background art for scene 4. Actually they're many and until the end of May I haven't much time spared from irl job and priority life issues. Anyway, since June I'll be able to work more once again. Also, I just set some plans for a "dev camp" in July to meet with my partner and work on some specific features of the game : D

Halfway May I realized how wrong my programs for May and June were (yeah, once again I failed at planning orz), so I changed plans a bit. I'll keep on working on background art for the rest of the month and use June to finish and polish demo from scene 0 to scene 4. This way it'll be easier to start with second part of the demo in July, since I've already have most of the assets. 

Background art this time are about Kairi's house. His family is rich, so I'm kind of having fun in painting luxurious rooms all around : D I want to use background art to help me conveying the mood of each scene, so I think I won't hold back in pushing things a bit far and create environments that could also appear a bit exaggerated. I honestly like doing the background art part, (even if I'm not that qualified ^ ^") maybe most than any other asset, because it feels like creating a world : D Sadly, for 3D renders I can't rely on high resolution files, so they're barely okay to make up for a decent background (I cannot zoom in, to say one). But since I need quite a lot of them, I decided to go with the formula: <3D render + a bit of digital paint> for the indoors.

Here's the entrance hall for Kairi's house, day and night.

And, currently, I'm "decorating" another room of the house.

For this last, colorful room I can't say much since the owner and the story behind it will be unveiled through the game itself. Anyway, it's the room of a teenager with a passion for J-pop and otaku culture : D 

One more upgrade to the game I'm doing, it's to increase the number of interactive backgrounds (the point and click feature). Since there are some mysteries to unfold throughout the story, some background art like the colorful one above, can be explored to collect information. In all cases, these information are only for the playing experience's sake, meaning that it will make the playthrough more interactive with the player deciding what's interesting to check out. In other words, there won't be any section requiring the player to look for clues and store them. But since I wanted to implement the interactive backgrounds where needed, I thought to create some more of them to avoid the game to be a long list of clues to read. By the way, the colorful room was one of them since the beginning, and in its specific case the player can also skip exploring and get back to the story without checking on everything (well, I hope people would like to check on most things XD).

For this update that's all. See you next time (on May 31st) for some more progress on background art!

Dev Log and some BG art.

Habitual readers of Serenade journal, new readers, hello. : D Today's update is about a new column of the blog, the one about tutorials. Hope it will be of some help ; >

Since a while ago, I wanted to write some posts about a topic that I care a lot about, which is storytelling. As a reader myself, I always get curious about the reasons that bring me to like a story or make me unable to stop reading. And also: the reasons that make a story so meaningful for me. I have a crush for psychological studies of the attitude and how the brain works in habitual situations. In other words: why we get curious about something or why we consider something familiar and like it, etc. 
For this reason I couldn’t ignore a book called “How to write stories that brain get curious to read” (the Japanese title for “Wired for Story” by Lisa Cron). It may not say anything very new (well, for me it was educational), nevertheless it neatly outlines concepts and explains how they relates to the brain’s psychology. I don’t mean to summarize Lisa Cron’s manual here, but I’d like to highlight some of the points she explains. Also, I’d like to put the accent on how we perceive reality compared to a fictional story, because I think that there lies the key to understand how to write a story efficiently. Many times I find myself with a good concept in mind, or with a beginning and an ending that I think work very well together, but I got lost in the process of finding the way to communicate them successfully to an audience. “Wired for Story” helped me clear things up! (Please note that what follows is partly inspired by "Wired for Story" and partly comes from my experience).

Why we read stories.
Let’s begin with something very physiological: reading something interesting, makes our brain release dopamine. Dopamine is the substance that usually is released when we accomplish a task, as to tell our brain we feel the gratification of the result, and that we should do it again. For example, when we are back from gym, or we finish a painting, a manuscript, etc. dopamine is released. Likewise, it's released when we read a good book or watch an engaging tv series as well, that’s why people like to be entertained by stories.

Regarding the psychological side of the matter: we love to read stories because stories can tell us about reality and how to get through it, while we stay safe at home. There will always be a main character who makes bold choices and faces the consequences for us. We can think about the story we read and draw some guidelines for our own life. So we can read the most troublesome adventure of all times without worrying about us being hurt and at the same time see how it ends. It looks very obvious, but it’s one of the main reason we are drawn to read a story: the brain thinks it can be useful information for our survival and push to keep reading.

For me, these two points are the very meaning of stories existence: the dopamine gratification and the story as a way to know the world.

How a story works.
So how does a story tells our brain “hello, I’m a useful source of information for your survival, read me~”?

First step. You need to know that: people are programmed to imagine how a story is going to unfold. Therefore, whenever they read an interesting first sentence they start to think how that story is going to end and keep on reading to find it out. For example, a story about a cheating wife makes us wonder “When is she going to be discovered?”, “How will her husband react? And her childrend?”, etc.

Second step. Now that you know it, you have to do that! : D The trick is to write something that makes the reader’s mind start wondering and imagining about its development or conclusion. Make a reader ask “What’s going to happen next?” or “Maybe is it going to turn out like this? Or like that?”

What to put into a story.
First step. You need to know that: people are programmed to link events. When we live our life, we think of everything that happens to us as connected to several other events. For example,  when two meet and fall in love they may think it’s a matter of destiny. But actually, it’s a sort of map our brain comes up with to make reality comprehension more simple for us.

Second step. Since we have this tendency, we should write a story providing events that are linked together to communicate easily with the readers. So, unlike reality where everything is random, in a story it’s always a matter of “destiny”.

What to not put into a story.
First step. You need to know that: people are programmed to ignore whatever is not directly related to what they’re doing at the right moment. If they’re absorbed by something, their brain will ignore all unnecessary information to better focus.

Second step: In a story it’s not the reader’s brain the one that decides which are the information worthy of focus, it’s the writer who has the task to choose those. In other words, the reader can’t tell apart necessary information and unnecessary ones so they will take everything as important. Remember, a reader’s brain imagines what’s going to happen next because they read something previously that made them wonder. If you write an event that won’t have any further development, you may forget about that but the reader is going to remember it and keep wondering what meaning is going to have on the story. Avoid unrelated things to your story.

What a story is about.
First step. You need to know that: in modern times, people like tranquility and routine. Having a job, a house, friends, love, etc. And have this repeated day after day as a sign of stability and absence of worrying. At the same time, they dream of some big change to happen in their life. Winning a jackpot, meeting a famous person who falls in love with them and other big hits : D.

Second step. As we said before, people like to read stories to have big adventures while sitting safely in their living. An entertaining story tells about a change and how people change. This is what readers get really curious of. How something started from A and ended up in B. Readers can use this change as a knowledge for their own lives.

End of first part : D I apologize if some information looks incomplete, I plan to write more about them in next posts. I'll greet every suggestion or comments.
See you on next update! : >

Storytelling Column ①

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