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Archive for June 2018

[Week 79]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • The Game's Features
  • The Fundamental of The Gameplay
  • Progresses of The Week

The game's features.
With the help of Livestraes I've finally managed to update the System page! Now it lists all the features that have been decided to appear in PBS final game. There could be changes in the future but I'm pretty confident that the gameplay core will stay the same.

I plan to have a couple of blog posts to cover all the bullet points in the System page and talk in detail about the choice system too. For this first entry, I'm going to focus only on the final part, the one titled "Pitch Black Serenade in short".

  • Slice of life / Paranormal mystery VN. The story focuses on Kairi's daily life and, especially once reached Tokyo, slice-of-life moments will be continuously experienced. In addition to that, the characters the player is going to meet and to hang with are related to Kairi's personal story and to a series of paranormal events. The format is the one of a Japanese adventure game/visual novel of course! 😉
  • Travel between two cities and two different lives. It's the first time I talk about this feature but it's going to be an important one. Kairi can shape two personalities throughout the game and this comes in handy to best "survive" in both Kujikawa and Tokyo, since the two environments will require two different approaches. But there's more to it. It will be possible to gather clues in one city and use them in the other one. I was first inspired about this by the Ace Attorney games, which feature dialogue options that are initially locked but become later available after gathering certain clues. Expect a similar mechanics (more focused on "actions" rather than "dialogues" though)!
  • Attitude choices to shape the main character's personality. As said before, Kairi will have two approaches to choose from to interact with characters. I'll cover this topic in detail in one of the next updates.
  • Choose your romance according to how you intend to solve the mystery. I've already talked about this here.
  • Three main routes and multiple endings. There is going to be one main route for each romanceable heroine and, of course, multiple endings. I can't say yet how many they're going to be but I don't plan to have big numbers. Eight or ten probably.
  • Original story set in 2012 Japan. I've talked about the time in PBS here. And you can find information about the fictional location, Kujikawa, here. As for Tokyo, I plan to have a very accurate portrait of it and, overall, to create a realistic Japanese atmosphere, as my goal is to make the game truly enjoyable for anime and OELVN fans.
  • Anime-style inspired original art. This doesn't need further explanations, does it? 😉
  • High replay value. Probably one of the most ambitious goals of PBS's development. To achieve it, I'm trying to implement various story and game mechanics:
        • Each of the three routes contains a completely different story while the mystery remains unsolved / Kairi doesn't get back all his memories in half of the endings. Such epilogues provide other insights on the story and on the characters but I believe that they also push the players to replay the game a second time and choose differently.
        • There are collectible cards spread across all the routes and it's necessary to play the game using different approaches to get all of them.
        • The number of times a player can travel between Tokyo and Kujikawa is fixed but it's unlikely that a player gets to do all of them during their first playthrough (most of them are optional after all). A player can choose to skip them because they want to focus on the story or they're forced in doing so because they lack the money. Finding all the money hidden in the game may require more than one playtrhough.
        • Lastly, my favorite incentive for the replay value: there's a mystery in the story, right? This means that when a player completely or partially solves it, they're going to get new knowledge by the end of the game. For this reason, a second playthrough will feel quite different and may get interesting! 😋

The fundamental of the gameplay.
The features planned for PBS are quite a lot and it took me two years to decide them. But what were the criteria? Seeing so many mechanics, one could assume that I just threw in whatever it looked cool in a random order!

There's just one important fundamental I used and it's: every bit of the gameplay is a Kairi's consequence of being in the game. Whatever didn't mirror Kairi wasn't included!

(Collectible cards are an exception for I love rhythm cellphone games!)

Progresses of the week.
Progresses of the week are about the script again. I'm happy to announce that I've finally completed the part for the demo and it only waits to be proofread! 😁


Next week it's going to be partly a vacation and I'll probably be working on the promotion for PBS. Once again, my private life needs major contribute from me so I'm not sure how speedy my progresses in July are going to be. However I'll do my best to keep working regularly and updating the blog the best I can.
Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

The game's features.

[Week 78]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • PBS x Jurassic June
  • Progresses of The Week
  • "UK Kairi" 

PBS x Jurassic June.
Jurassic June is a month-long celebration of dinosaurs and... yes, it has nothing to do with Pitch Black Serenade's story and genre. However, dinosaurs' fandom is funny and cool, so why not take the opportunity to write an extra scene with PBS's characters? 😀 

It only lasts a couple of minutes, but I hope you're going to have fun with it. I unambiguously tried to mock the latest Jurassic World movie... I mean, I couldn't resist and had Kairi playing the part of the villain! 😅

That's enough of a premise! I wish you a funny moment together with the Kujikawa Arc's characters once again!

Progresses of the week.
While I had fun coding the dinosaur video, I also worked hard on the actual game too. The following list is what I've managed to accomplish this week.

  • Script for the investigation part is down on paper! For a total of c.ca 17,000 words and 27 choice forks. Half of the manuscript still needs heavy revision but I believe it won't take too long and I'll have it ready within the end of June.
  • The tutorial has been written down too! The game is going to give the player instructions on how to use the choice system, just before the investigation part starts. Once again, it's early to talk about this topic in details, but from the chart above you can already see that some of the choice options are colored in purple. The game will use the same color to enhance those, and to better use them, a player will need this tutorial and their active judgment for each situation. 
  • An updated System Page is coming soon. With the help of Livestraes I was able to write a new System Page with recent information about PBS's gameplay. The one currently displayed here on the website dates back to 2016 and has few information because early in the development many things were still to be decided. The new one will explain details about all the "actions" the player will be able to perform in game. I'm going to cover this topic in the next blog post, but here's a preview of what to epect from the game features:
  1. Choose how to shape Kairi's personality through the purple choices.
  2. Travel between Kujikawa and Tokyo to solve situations.
  3. Unlock collectible cards.

"UK Kairi".
And a little omake: Kairi "UK version". This was a quick doodle I did to practice with colors. Since it's Kairi I thought it would have been nice to post it here as well! 😇

Click to enlarge.

I definitely want to cover the System features in details next week, so I hope you'll be looking forward for that! 😀 I want to thank all the people who are regularly supporting PBS every week and follow its updates: thank you so much! Every time I see a like or a retweet from you I feel filled with support! 💖 PBS's development won't be the same without you! 💜💛💙

That being said, that's all for this update! Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

PBS x Jurassic June

[Week 77]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • The Investigation Part
  • Scene X
  • System Specs: A Preview 

The investigation part.
As I mentioned last time, I've finally started working on the "investigation part".
In the demo it covers three chapters and it's the section that contains most of the choice menus. Let's see in details how the three investigative scenes are going to work.

  • Scene II (Passive) - It's a short scene. Here the player is going to watch a short TV program and meet a new character. There are no choices to be done, for the player's role is to gather the first information about the mystery they're going to deal with in the game.
  • Scene VI (Active) - This scene is split in two parts: "Dinner" and "Room". It's labeled "Active" because the player will finally interact with the clues. During "Dinner" they are going to get familiar with their situation. "Room" will have the player exploring their surroundings and gathering clues to eventually formulate deductions.
  • Scene X (Active) - The last investigation chapter included in the demo. Details will be disclosed in the next paragraph.

Scene X.
So far I've completed Scene II and VI and I'm now working on Scene X. This conclusive part of the demo will be the most interactive one and the player will be called to shape their adventure by choosing the order of the events.

During the previous scenes, Kairi is given a few items to use in this part. Two of them were visible in the Cafeteria trailer and in Isahai trailer, and are Teru's notebook and Isahai's daughter's photo sticker. Each of them is the key to play a different scene.

Scene X starts with Kairi waking up. Here the player will be given the freedom to explore his room. To continue with the story they need to choose one of the three items, each linking to a specific task they're going to carry on.

Interactivity here is rather extended and my main focus in this case will be to provide a good coding. In other words, no matter which scene the player is going to pick up first, the story will unfold correctly anyway. Having a menu like this will translate into a few of alternative scenarios to write but I think it will also enhance the experience for the player.

Are different choices going to have different outcomes on the story? At this point they're not heavily affecting the story yet, however Fujisa's route may start to change.

System specs: a preview.
I plan on updating the System page as soon as possible, providing more information about the gameplay of PBS. As you already know, PBS is going to be a visual novel and this means having narrative parts and choices throughout the game. But, as you could see from the information I just released, there are going to be other ways to interact with the game too, and I plan on covering those as well.

In regards to shape-your-scenario parts, the player will encounter other instances where they will be asked to choose from the items gathered and decide an order for the events. But in future cases, the items available at that moment will directly depend on whether the player had gathered them or not. Missing one item will preclude the player from playing a scene.

That's all for today's update. During next week I'll keep writing the script for scene X and I plan to finish it completely so I can start working on the missing assets before the end of June. In next week's update I'm going to cover a bit more about the System specs and reveal the first details about the choice system. 
Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

The investigation part.

[Week 76]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • Assets For The First Part Completed 
  • Progresses On The Remaining Parts
  • Inspirations For PBS's Gameplay

Assets for the first part completed.
I'm proud to announce that all visual assets, sound effects and soundtrack for the first part of the demo - 393 files in total - have finally being completed and coded! 🎊 Now it's finally time to work on the latter part! 💪

Progresses on the remaining parts.
During the last week I finally started rewriting and fixing the script for the remaining parts of the demo which is the most interactive section. That's a lot of fun for this reason, but an incredible amount of work too!

The remaining parts are basically half of the demo in word counting, and my plan is to finish the script for it before the end of June. Lately I had to deal with real life issues a lot, but, as I wrote last time, hopefully I'll manage to accomplish it within this deadline. Here's an overview of the sections and their progress status.

Part I - (approx 800 words) - waiting to be proofread
Part II (approx 6500 words) - 2000 words left to be re-written
Part III (approx 8500 words) - to be re-written and to be completed

After writing the first part of the demo I feel like I've improved my writing skill to the point I feel more confident about my script. This allows me to approve it even when it's not "perfect" because, at the very least, it's clear of big narration mistakes. 

As I said, this last part (not in scenario order) is going to be heavily interactive. This means more choices to do, rooms to explore and even a minigame to solve.

Inspirations for PBS's gameplay.
Speaking about choices, I've yet to introduce the way they're presented in PBS. Now it's too early again for that, however I'd like to talk more in details about what you can expect. 

  • Ask characters about many things. - There's a game which I keep thinking of that kind of influenced me about the gameplay. It's "The Longest Journey". I can't remember if I ever finished it but one thing's sure, something about it still fascinates me. In particular, one feature I'd like to borrow is the possibility to have menus of choice where every option can be asked. The purpose of this is to gather information of some sort, in the case of PBS will be useful to learn more about the characters, relationships or the lore.
  • Interactive anime - A second feature I imagined for PBS since the beginning is to have the atmosphere of an anime (for girls) where you can do all the "uncomfortable" choices of the case. Like asking weird questions, saying something embarrassing and such. Some games already do this and I'd like to have such a feeling too. 
That's everything about this week's update. Next week I'm going to continue working on the script and hopefully we'll manage coding some of the GUI with Livestraes too.
Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

Script progresses.

[Week 75]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • Sound Effects for PBS 
  • A few BGM Samples

June has started and it's going to be one of the last months of development for the demo. In particular, I plan to begin the script for the investigation part earlier next week and have it completed within the end of the month. Making plans makes me confident about work and gives me a general idea of what my accomplishments are going to be, but of course plans can be kinder than reality is, as progresses can get much slower than expectations. Life's unpredictability also has a big share in this too.

Sadly I must say that I would have expected to have a much easier time since I left my day job in March. I thought that my days would simply be: waking up in the morning, doing chores, cooking and for the rest dive into game development. Instead I kept having one annoying issue after another and lately "big problems" occurred as well. For this reason I really hope that next months will go smoother and I'll have much more calm. Just for a few months... 😑

However! Let's leave aside complaints and let's start a tour of the latest progresses of the game! Hope you enjoy this week's post! 💜

Sound effects for PBS.
Last week was mostly centered on the making of "audio assets". I'm not a fan of sound engineering at all and I don't enjoy such task very much, but I admit there were instances where preparing the sounds was quite satisfying

One important thing I learnt is that sounds not only convey the audio share for a scene, they are crucial to deliver emotions and sensations as well. This means that sometimes sounds must be chosen not only because they represent the action going on on screen but also to describe the experience the player is going through. 

I mostly used soundjay.com, dova-s.jp and freesound.org to gather royalty free sounds and edit each of them to have proper sound effects for the game. Since my skills are not refined I may need to rely on someone else to further refine some of them in the future but at the moment I'm pretty satisfied with what I accomplished and I'd say that the sounds I came up with, even when not perfect, carry out their purpose quite fine so I'll go with them for the moment.

A few BGM samples.
Let's talk a bit about the BGM too. In one post from last year I already mentioned that I decided to use royalty free tracks for the demo, relying on the collection available on dova-syndrome.

I downloaded quite a lot of tracks from there and this past week I sorted some of them out, trying to identify which scene or purpose they could be suitable for. I ended up building some kind of a OST track list which I can draw from while deciding the BGM for the scenes. Once again, I'd like the BGM to have a bit of a retro feeling and somehow evoking the old-fashioned-low-bit BGM of the games I was addicted to during my childhood. Basically this is the primary parameter I used when deciding this temporary track list which I hope you'll enjoy! 🎶

It may seem a bit out of place to post royalty free tracks as examples. Original ones would have been proof of some specific work done perhaps, but I don't plan to have a composer for the time being and I also wanted to show you what the OST is going to sound like in the demo.

If you please, feel free to have an early sample of it! I gave symbolic names to the tracks to better identify where to use them (original names and authors are in brackets).

Broken Mind ("Aisetsu" by Kenapo)

Demon World 
("Kanashimi ni Tutumarete" by Alaki Paca)
Friendship ("Shiro" by Chocomint)
Fujisa's Theme ("Hirahirari" by Moppy Sound)

Night at Best Friend's ("Namida no Joukei" by Taron)
Out of Confrontations Stars Are Born

Teru's Theme 
("You Are Precious by Sakuma Yuuki)
Oblivion ("Real" by Sakuma Yuuki)

That's everything about this week's update. Next week I'm going to post a bit more of the work done on the assets while, as I said, my plans are to start the script for the investigation part. As you may have noticed from the track list I just posted, one of them is called "Demon World". That's because the mystery included in PBS is going to revolve around paranormal and demons! I can't wait to reach that part in terms of development and I hope this sounds enough interesting for you readers to look forward to it!
Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

Game's sounds.

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