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Archive for January 2018

[Week 57]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • Year 2012
  • BGM choices
  • Kairi, A Narcissist 
  • Teru and Fujisa

 *:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜


A new gameplay trailer is ready! πŸ’ƒ✨ Let me share it privately here for the moment and comment it with you (it will be officially published as soon as I encode the titles and credits and fix the English. I had pretty long shifts at day job this week too...πŸ’¦) 

Please, watch the revised version here.


As previously announced, said trailer it's a prequel of the scene starring Isahai. So if you'd like to watch the full sequence start from the cafeteria and then straight to the clinic! 😁 It's totally a work in progress, so scenes as you see them now may vary in the final version of the game (mostly to correct inconsistencies).

Having said that, let's start with the commentary about this new trailer. And... Nerd Mode ON 😎


Year 2012.

The scene begins with a black screen informing that is the year 2012, and three years later something. In the actual demo players are going to play a whole hour or so of contents prior this date, indeed. The main aim of such time skip is to rapidly progress with the story and to show changes. I'm not only talking about temporal ones as characters that age and graduate. The main changes are going to be psychological. In the trailer is not easy to spot them all and, actually, my purpose is to keep what was before hidden until the release of the demo in order to make people actually experience the "trauma". 

So why 2012? To put it frankly, it wouldn't have been bad to have the story set in the present. 2017 or 2018 look very appealing from a "marketing perspective". Having characters checking their Instagram accounts and make jokes about it would have made the story more realistic in a sense, not to mention that my target audience are girls and I believe such details could appeal them more. Buuut, I declined the chance.

PBS story was originally conceived in 2012 and I've never thought of changing the time which it is set. On the contrary, the more the years passed and technology advanced the more I felt I should stick to the past. I truly aim to entertain a female public with PBS but I also want to deliver a good "universal" content and I don't know why I believe that would work better "without all the technology". Despite being not so different from today, whenever I think back of 2012 it sort of feels like another age! Therefore I'd like to keep a little bit of authenticity into PBS' human relationships.

BGM choices.
As I stated other times before, at the moment BGM in PBS is not custom. Choosing the royalty free tracks is not easy at all, especially because you can't quite build a playlist whose tracks connect to each other and seem to belong to the same product. That's probably the main issue. 

As a second problem I would mention my poor ability in figuring out what exactly I'd need as a BGM from scene to scene... So, lately, when listening to the tracks I've saved for PBS I kind of noticed that most of them resemble a familiar mood I previoulsy experienced while playing the Final Fantasy series. In other words, somewhat mechanical, old-feeling, game ambient background music. 

As of now, I think that the atmosphere I want to re-create in PBS is a game-nostalgic one, with an evident partition between the inside the screen and the player. I'd like the player to be overly conscious of being playing a game... if this can ever make any sense πŸ˜•
What I plan to enhance are the mechanical feeling of a button GUI lacking any fancy animation (still to be implemented), a year that is not as modern as the present and the BGM, better if not "cool".

I guess that these are the current guidelines for PBS development.

Kairi, a narcissist.

The biggest "shock" of this new trailer is probably the main character πŸ˜…

As announced in last week post, Kairi is near the title of king of narcissists and for this reason, more than his dialogues, I worked very carefully on his thoughts aka the most immediate vessel the player is going to use to understand him. (Livestraes, who is the first ever beta tester for each scene, also made me delete one sentence because it sounded too much offensive towards Teru despite not being addressed to him at all, lol)

I believe that there are going to be players who will either like or hate Kairi, however what I aim to create is a character with a pronounced personality, not only because it's functional to the story, but also to entertain more. Besides, I want to make clear that the narcissism I talk about in the game is not necessarily a bad trait and I'm not trying to criticize or make "life lessons" on the topic. Take it just as a telling tool.
<<Research finds that narcissistic personality types do very well in interviews.>>(1)

Moreover, I wish to highlight that the whole story is not going to be a "moralistic fairytale" where Kairi is the bad guy who soon or later realizes that being self-centered is not good, and eventually turns into a nice person. Surely I plan to use some "healthy" confrontations with characters who can see through him and have different opinions on how to behave. But the ultimate choice is in player's hands. 

  

Shin's values are opposite to Kairi's, and major confrontations in the story are going to be between the two of them.

Teru and Fujisa.

Three years prior this trailer, Kairi had just moved in Kujikawa where Fujisa and Teru, the first schoolmates he befriended, were in a rather complicated relationship.


In the demo the player can actually live what in the trailer is only seen through a quick flashback. Anyway for the moment take as truth what Kairi comments about his two friends because it's very similar to what actually happened.




Other mentions like the Prince Charming Circle due to the overly popularity of Kairi among girls, the status of Fujisa etc. are all clearly explained in the part of game previous the time skip. Therefore, playing the demo is enough to arrive to the "cafeteria scene" with all the knowledge you need! 😎



Conclusions.
I plan to release a new gameplay trailer next month and this time will cover the choice system in details. πŸ‘Œ

(On a side note, these posts are becoming nerdier and nerdier, I mean, I also quoted a psychology book lol.)

Next week (29-4) I'm going to work on a new CG of Kairi, a kind of "traumatic" one (maybe) πŸ˜€

Thank you for reading, see ya! πŸ™ŒπŸ’œ








1.Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Makes Us Influential, John Neffinger, Matthew Kohut.


New Gameplay Trailer - A Peaceful Cafeteria Scene in Spring

[Week 56]
*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • The Setting: Kujikawa
  • Kujikawa's Arc's Three Main Characters
  • The Cafeteria Scene's Early Screenshots


 *:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜


Last week I talked about the mood of the story in Pitch Black Serenade, this time I’d like to introduce the town where the game starts and the three main characters the player is going to interact with while there.

Expect a “nerdy, behind the scene” post.😎

The setting: Kujikawa.

I plan to cover this location with a map someday soon (maybe after the demo is out), for the moment let me introduce what kind of city it is.

First off, it’s a fictional place made up to serve PBS’s story needs. In Japanese its name 久時川 means “the river of the eternal time”; imaginary speaking, it’s located in the Gifu prefecture, about three hours from Tokyo.

Kujikawa is built on two levels: the lower one is generally called “Kujikawa City Centre” and looks like a Japanese modern suburban area. Shops, hospitals and facilities are all located there.

The upper level is up the hills. It’s where most of Kujikawa’s inhabitants live and half of them are landlowners, aka very rich people with important businesses.

All around the two levels it’s only mountains and woods, making Kujikawa a secluded place. 
For this reason people developed quite the narrow-minded mentality. It might seem a small detail, however this factor is very important not only to comprehend the characters you’re going to interact with, but also to choose how to move as the main character in such environment.

Kujikawa Arc's three main characters.


So who are you going to meet in such far-off, mountain location?

In next paragraph I’m going to describe the three main characters’ psychology. What I’m about to write is a “behind the scene”, aka, the things we usually sense and deduce when reading a story here plainly explained.
As expected from a dev post, nah? 😎


Little story: I kind of wanted to create a sort of “Kujikawa fashion”. Therefore, characters who are native of Kujikawa might wear similar clothes.

The three main characters from the Kujikawa Arc are Kairi, Teru and Fujisa. I refer to them as “main” because they’re part of one of the three routes of the game. Moreover, one of the task the player will be asked to carry out is to manage the relationship among them. Let’s observe them one by one!

Kairi Nakajo

He’s the main character, the one the player is going to “control”. Kairi left Tokyo a week later he lost his memories to move in Kujikawa. He’s from a rich family.

Which kind of person is our protagonist? Well... Let's summarize his personality in a few bullets (not sure if he's going to be liked afterwards πŸ˜…):
  • He's a narcissist. He sees himself as the center of the universe and above everyone else. Kairi manages to achieve great results in practice too, therefore his exaggerate self-confidence kind of never wavers.
  • Additional effects of his narcissism: 1) He always feels entitled. 2) When something bad happens he refers to himself as the "victim" and it's never his fault. 3) He's manipulative.
  • He also feels envy whenever someone else achieves a remarkable result. Kairi is very able to mask this side of him. However, it can be easily spotted when he compliment someone: His latent envy prevents him to make compliments from the heart therefore he may sound fake.
  • He may appear emphatic but his empathy is not genuine, rather just another piece of his facade. Kairi is only lotta cunning and tries his best to comprehend others in order to anticipate them. Moreover, living in a town where everyone has the same fixed mindset makes things way easier for him.
So... How does it feels? Happy to control such nice guy? πŸ’‘ πŸ˜€ 


Teru Momiyama
Teru grew up in Kujikawa and he's a "commoner". He lives in the Takenogata η«Ήι‡Žζ–Ή residential district and attends the law faculty together with Kairi and Fujisa. 
  • He's honest, loyal, caring and emphatic.
  • His first approach is to believe in others. He can read people pretty well but he's not interested in judging them good or bad. On the contrary, he's extremely friendly with anyone.
  • And this makes him quite the naive type. He rarely left Kujikawa and doesn't know much of the world. He never had his heart truly broken by another human being.
  • Being unaware of the evil in the world, he's almost never scared. But lacks courage too.
Fujisa Komine
Fujisa too grew up in Kujikawa and the outside world stays a mystery to her. She's the only daughter and heir of the Komines, an old-established family that influences Kujikawa and part of the area around. She lives in Odo ζ‘œι“, the upper-class residential district, and she's neighbor with Kairi.
  • If Teru can be labeled as "naive", Fujisa is ten times more! Her family decided everything about her education and she never had any power over her own life. From her point of view, she feels like she lives inside a fairytales book.
  • But she has substance. She constantly wonders about the world and life issues.
  • Despite being shy she wants to communicate and to connect with others as much as she can. She believes that being hurt is part of the process and endures it.
  • Despite non controlling anything about her life, she gives her best in everything she does and enjoys to learn new things. She's always happy for some reason.

Okay, I know. Kairi is a jerk among angels.
No, I can't make you control anyone else. Play as the jerk. πŸ˜‰

I'll cover the relationship map among these three in some next post. I'm preparing a new gameplay trailer that depicts a scene from which you can deduce all the personality traits I described here as well as their relationship.


The Cafeteria Scene's Early screenshots.

The new gameplay trailer I plan to publish is from a segment I call "the cafeteria scene". 

It's a very relaxed scene where the player is introduced to a new situation after a three-year time skip.
Playing the full demo will obviously let the players compare the story before and after that. However, from the trailer it's still possible to deduce most of the changes.
(Not the biggest change though, that is a fun reserved for the demo πŸ˜‰)




Next week (22-28) I plan to release the new trailer! Therefore, I may write another commentary post!
Thank you for reading, see ya! πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹





[Week 55]
*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • A Hectic Start of The Year
  • The Mood in Serenade and My Quirk for Comedy
  • My Menu for Spring
  • About Art Commissions

 *:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜*:....:*・゜


The start of 2018 was hectic for me. Two weeks have passed and have yet to stop for a moment. This past week especially was crazy, like I was constantly in a hurry and this made me physically and mentally tired with the result that even when I accomplished something it wasn’t the best I could do and in most cases I trashed it and did it again from scratch. Not the best way to use time...

I’m also in the process to quit my day job and the burocracy added to the pile πŸ˜“ Long story short, I can’t deliver any new screenshot as I promised last week because I barely started some of the assets for the cafeteria scene. I’m going to take more care of me from now on and start again full throttle to work at my best on this project 😎

No screenshots, no significant updates… this time I’m going to talk in detail about PBS story and mood in general (Tips and knowledge from writing manuals included)!

The mood in Serenade.

[nerd mode on] According to author Lisa Cron, the mood of a story is the general atmosphere you feel when reading/watching that makes you think what possibly could happen next without violating that atmosphere. What comes to my mind in this case is Madoka Magica (spoiler ahead): when you start watching it you probably feel relaxed and immersed in a cute atmosphere and you no way expect that a cute girl is going to brutally have her head cut off next episode. That betrays the atmosphere but in this case it’s made on purpose. Usually stories respect the atmosphere: a love story makes you dream, not feel anxious as a thriller movie.

What about Serenade? Since the early gameplay trailer about Kairi visiting professor Isahai, I received two or three feedbacks remarking that the scene goes from funny to serious without too many explanations. I guess that you could also say that it goes from “only funny” to “only serious”. That’s the actual guideline I plan to use for the whole game. The mood of the game won’t be these two status only though.



Some probably have wondered why although PBS is comedy and serious (the plot isn’t zany after all) this blog looks so dark? 😲 Black background and a purple banner depicting a lonely girl watching seriously at you. The title itself is dark, isn’t it? When I chose it I made the unusual juxtaposition on purpose (Back in the years I named my webcomics and doujinshi with names as “Funeral of Hearts” or “Death in lullabies”, I guess that’s a habit lol) and it was to enhance the contrast between something soothing like a calm melody and the hopeless atmosphere of the darkest color. This summarize Serenade the best.

To be honest I like the extremities: Deep love or deep despair make you feel alive. It’s good to have balance in your life and, personally I flee craziness irl all the time lol, but in a story… in a story it’s great to feel something extreme, doesn’t it? 😌 Therefore, making sure not to force anything, I plan to write about extreme feelings. Expect a tranquil, funny mood and also a good dose of despair, or better, hard, simple facts of life.

...All seasoned with tons of comedy. I grew up with shoujo manga (the funny ones) and my family too was a humorous one. As most people, growing up I realized it’s no use to try to be someone else : D so it’s better to write who I am. I love humorous manga and my greatest memories about drawing webcomics was when people found them amusing (or surprising ; )), so I’ll go this route and invest in this quirk of mine with the intention to make it a good ingredient for PBS.

My menu for spring.
Well, this is about the cafeteria scene. (No, I’m not gone crazy and changed the topic of this blog only because I haven’t updates 😁). Although still to polish, I managed to work on one of the assets: A cafeteria tray with a “full bloom” menu for spring season.
Click to enlarge.

*:....:*・゜Today’s lunch *:....:*

🍀 Fried prawns + salmon omelette roll

🌿 Ham roses salad (took inspiration from IG user: suzuka730)
🍣 Salmon tartar and spinach “gunkan” omelette roll
🍡 Eggplants and onions miso soup
🍑 Dango

A visual novel is “visual”, therefore I want to enjoy this aspect and paint as many visual cues I can whenever it fits a scene. Especially food, which I plan to have several CGs about!


Next week (15-21) I’m going to complete the cafeteria scene and this time I'll prepare some screenshots for sure!


See you next week!πŸ‘‹








A hectic start of the year.

First week into 2018. How does it feel? πŸ˜‹ Mine was a bit... complicated (technical domestic issues) but luckily I managed to accomplish some work this time too nevertheless. I also started my "new" habit of regularly playing games during the week and as expected I feel way more relaxed. I almost avoided hobbies like videogames during 2017 to save time for PBS but that wasn't a wise decision. I just remembered how inspiring playing can be expecially while you are developing a game yourself! Therefore, my 2018 is going to be seasoned with game sessions and I believe that's not bad as a premise, eheh.

This week I'm going to post some process pictures and video from my latest background artwork: the school cafeteria from the university Kairi and pals attend in the game. Despite of the location it's an outdoor, because I thought it would be quite the view to set lunch scenes in the open air with outside glossy chairs and tables, nature, sunlight... That kind of scene! I guess that it could enhance the "magic" atmosphere of a city like Kujikawa which is represented a bit like a fairytale location.

As you may remember from one of my first posts here, I already wrote about the making of of background art, albeit not in details. Instead of a lineart, this time I used a 3D render as reference and painted it with a technique I call "digital acrylics" which I started using last year in February. It mostly uses flat surfaces e very neat colors. When it's about art, I'm a self-taught, so note that what I'm about to show you it's just my personal attempt at backgrounding and noting you can really consider as a teaching. 

Long story short, let's start with the 3D render I made in SketchUp using the warehouse collection (that means 3D models made by other users which I edited and assembled together).


Since I'm going to paint over it I don't care too much about details as the faraway landscape and such. What I need to fill my deficits in drawing perspective and time is just a model I can take screenshot of that contains the main elements of my background. In this case a good amount of chairs and tables, a building, stairs, etc.

The angle I chose for my screenshot

SketchUp can also show you only lines

I had the idea for this view from the cafeteria of my own university which I kept a photo of. I guess that when we talk about create something, everyone draws a lot from their personal experience and mix it up with imagination, isn't it true?



Okay, so... time to paint over the render. I use a rough and half transparent brush and start from the elements that look more representative of the general picture to have some results I can observe and judge as soon as possible. 



First we have chairs and tables. Then nature is important for the general feeling, so let's paint the trees (in this case fully bloomed cherry trees because my scene is set during spring. Note that for summer setting I can easily repaint only the trees and use the same background). A lamp is the last part. When putting a 3D model together, aside from inserting the main elements of the picture, it's also useful to stop and think: "Which item would I need in a setting like this if it was real?". A wide terrace like this would be useless after the sun sets unless the proper illumination is provided.



It's time for the building, the stairs, the rail. I try to use colors that are nice to look at and not just the ones from the render. I took inspiration from other artists.



Floor dyed with peach color and a more subtle blue. Choosing colors is for me the hardest part, therefore this quick change was an important step in this picture!



Inserting a background behind the cherry trees. I used a photo I took and dyed in some softer hues, bended and adapted to my picture. It may be addressed as a "trick" but it does save time! And showing tricks like this is actually the purpose of this sudden tutorial, haven't you realized by now? πŸ˜‡



Completing the picture with the glass windows, shadows, missing details... And then I add a bunch of fluttering cherry petals here and there.

...And the background is completed and ready to be coded into the game! A nice spring day at the school cafeteria!


Last thing for this post, New Year art is now completed as well. Zodiac animal is the dog, so let's have Kairi and Shin doing a selfie with a dog filter! 🐢

Click to enlarge

I probably said other times but I can't wait to introduce Shin. Since it's the other main character of PBS it's tiring to be forced to conceal him all the time. However, he's from the Tokyo arc and won't show up in the first demo that's going to be released (to have some comedy, you can enjoy Isahai in the meanwhile πŸ˜‰), so I guess I'm going to talk about him again after that.

Next week (8-14) I'm going to work on the coding of the cafeteria scene and hopefully publish some screenshots. Have a blessed 2018 everyone and thank you for sticking with Serenade development!




How I paint backgrounds step by step.

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