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Archive for August 2018

[Week 87]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • The Choice System

During the last two weeks I posted a slideshow of the first hour of gameplay, it's now time to talk about what the choice system is going to be like. 😏

The choice system.
As in the majority of visual novels, PBS lets the player decide the outcome of situations and the general story by picking up a choice. 

I'll say it clearly: the first hour or so of gameplay won't have any decisive decision though. Kairi will be presented with options but these will only let him experience the situations differently without having a real impact. This has to do with the story itself. As a matter of fact, after the three-year time skip - aka the second part of the demo - Kairi will get new ways of reacting to situations and the choice system will adapt accordingly, providing the player with a wide amount of options on how to handle situations.

In this post I'm going to present the different kinds of choices that you're going to meet in PBS's demo. 😉

A standard menu.

I'd like the player to experience a good level of interactivity, for this reason PBS will have 'standard menus' here and there to react to situations and conversations. In the screenshot above you can see two choice options presented in white font. Each of them will trigger a different reaction from Kairi and the character involved, but the epilogue of the scene won't change.

The only purpose of this menu is: how do you want to behave in this situation? Or again: how do you want to reply to this character?

A survey menu.

Whenever Kairi will introduce a menu, phrasing: 'Let's ask a few questions.' that is going to be a survey menu. The peculiarity of this menu is that you can pick all the options one after another and interrogate the character you're talking to.

Here the player needs to ask Teru about the first two topics listed in order to unlock the '???' options.

This is going to be useful if you want to gather information from the environment around you. If you'd rather skip the interrogation and proceed with the story it'll be possible to choose 'Ask nothing.', too.

Other times, the 'Ask nothing' option will be missing. In these cases, the game needs the player to go through the interrogation and gather all the necessary info to make the story advance.

The purple choices.
PBS's choice system's core revolves around the 'purple choices'.

In 90% of the choice menus, the game presents a option marked with an eye symbol and highlighted in purple. It never explains why it's like this or what this kind of choices do though. As a matter of fact, Kairi can use them since the very beginning with no apparent reason.

Looking at the context of a scene it shouldn't be difficult to understand the role of these choices. At the same time, I'd like to have the player try to understand by themselves what the meaning behind them is, since neither Kairi knows anything.

You can consider them a sort of Kairi's special skill, so it makes sense they naturally appear here and there among his choices.

The purple choices after the time skip.
After the first half an hour of gameplay, the player is given a tutorial about how to use 'purple choices' from that point onward.

The Purple Chain.
'Purple choices' have a 'tree structure'. When you click one, you'll get more in the next menu.

This process will be thoroughly explained by the in-game tutorial. Every session of 'purple choices multiplication' will cover three menus in the same scene and will be announced by a sound and a logo in the upper-right corner, stating the words "Purple Chain".

In short, by choosing the last listed 'purple choice' in a menu for three times in a row the player can activate a Purple Chain. This will lead to a special menu showing only two 'purple choices'. Alternatively, by ignoring the Purple Chain, the menu displayed after the third menu will show a 'purple choice' and a 'normal choice'. 

What's this mechanism for?, you may ask. This is strictly related to the nature of the 'purple choices', which is something that can be noticed by playing the game. I'm going to anticipate two things about this process: 'purple choices' can be quite harmful and at times horrific; there will be times a player will need that extra 'purple choice' in the last menu and times when the normal choice can save a situation or a person from Kairi's evilness.

There are more things to unveil about this process but I'll let the in-game tutorial doing so when the demo will be out! I truly hope this game mechanic will be fun to play! 😌 

Kairi's substance.
And here we get to the last part of the choice mechanic.
The 'purple choice system' isn't just a matter of menus, it's strictly related to shaping Kairi's personality.

Kairi starts at a point where half of his 'soul' is purple and half is white. If you use normal choices all the time, the balance will stay like this. If you indulge in using 'purple choices' too much, the 'purple matter' will overflow and swallow the 'white matter'. If Kairi becomes all purple he won't be able to use the normal choices anymore.


That's all about the choice system! The demo will cover all of them and players are going to advance the story by using all these mechanics! 😏

In the meanwhile the coding is progressing and a new scene was added. Next week I'm going to write about a few other gameplay implementations you're going to find in the demo!
Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

The choice system.

[Week 86]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • Early Screenshots: A Day In Kairi's Life
  • Coding's Progresses
  • PBS's Merchandise Disclosure

As you can see from the index above, this week's contents will be similar to the ones of the last week. To begin with, screenshots again! And then a recap of progresses in coding, and a new preview for the merchandise! I hope you'll enjoy it! 😋

Early screenshots: a day in Kairi's life.
Last week I published screenshots from the first two scenes in the game. This time I'm going to cover the following four ones, depicting how Kairi is spending his days from morning to bed time.

It may sound like a pleasant, nice dive into the story; a slow-paced one, even. Unfortunately, I picked up the most eventful of Kairi's days, meaning that every scene contains a big amount of happenings and information.

Eizono Private High School.
Kairi's day starts in high school. He absently walks down the corridors to reach his classroom, not knowing that a dangerous weirdo is waiting for him there, with a bizarre reason.

With his immense strenght, the weirdo presses Kairi to corner and wants to punish him for stealing his woman with a series of... physical amputations!

It's the first time Kairi sees this man and from his smell and the way he drags his words, Kairi assumes the man must be drunk and his mind blurred. But Kairi has no clue how to escape his grip and every other student in the hallway is so terrified that no one dares to oppose the man.

At this point, it's up to the player to find a way to save Kairi's skin, using the choices provided by the game. This part is not that difficult to figure out, as it's only the beginning of the story and I didn't want the game to feel frustrating. But it's still possible to fail and to run into a very bad game over...

If the player manages to save Kairi, they can meet the two Student Council Presidents, Teru and Fujisa, and have a chat with them while learning a bit about their personalities and passions.

Educational Hill.
A school day is over. The sun is setting and Kairi is going back home, when he meets Teru again. The two are going the same direction so they start chatting along the way. In other words, another fitting moments to find out more about the characters, Kairi included.

I previously talked about this, but at this point the player is already inside Fujisa's route. This means that all the situations and information here disclosed are related to that part of the story. The role of the player in this case will be that of inquiry Teru in order to get more pieces of information to understand what's going on.

Once again, this is not going to be a difficult task, but it's necessary to pay attention to Teru's words to choose the right option from the list.

Teru gets home and Kairi is left with a brief walk ahead before he reaches his house.

Walking home.

It's time to focus on Kairi's backstory and the reason that made him move to Kujikawa right at the end of high school. On one hand, it seems he was sort of forced to change school...

...And that a certain car accident had played a big role in this.

At Nakajou's.
Kairi eventually reaches home and the player can finally meet his parents too.

This scene contains a mini game and the first true investigation/exploration part which I'm going to cover in some of the next posts! For the moment, I hope you enjoyed this quick overview into one of Kairi's days! This whole part takes about a hour of gameplay.

Coding's progresses.
I spent the last week mostly coding and the script is now counting over 25k words. The game gained a new interactive section and two sub scenes. To finish the game is necessary to code 5k-7k words more which translate into two scenes - one having an alternative scenario - and the epilogue.

In terms of assets I need to finish one background art and create alternative background artworks for four places. According to my plans, this should be completed within the first week of September, while for the rest of that month I'm going to take care of all the other parts of the game like the GUI, title screen, beta testing, etc.

PBS's merchandise disclosure.
I had an interesting poll running on @pbserenade's Twitter, about the kind of merchandise anime lovers usually prefer.
And acrylic keychains seem to be pretty popular! I personally collected rubber ones for the most part, but I must say that acrylic keychains have very beautiful art.

I have yet to decide which kind of keychain to produce for PBS but I guess that the attempt I've been doing lately tend to lean towards the rubber ones' design. However, here's a preview of the art I made for a chibi Fujisa collectible.


There's nothing more to add for this update! Next week will be a partial holiday to rest my mind and soul, I'll be visiting Gamescon in Cologne and working side to side with my favorite fellow VN developer!

More coding for PBS will be done and I plan to complete one of the background art still missing from the game.

As for the content of next blog post, you can expect an insight on the choice system and on how to shape Kairi's personality through player's choices.

Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

A day in Kairi's life.

[Week 85]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • Early Screenshots
  • Coding's Progresses
  • PBS's Merchandise First Disclosure

I'm happy to start this post saying that we're gradually approaching a release date for the demo! 🎇 The coding is planned to be finished within August, and in September I'm going to put the last touches. So it's likely that the demo will be out during Autumn! 🍁

Early screenshots.
Part of me doesn't want to spoiler anything about PBS gaming experience but I also think that it's rather rightful to show you a preview of what the game is going to be like, especially to the people who's been following the development for a long time. 

(Note that the GUI is still incomplete).

The first scene is set in front of the Choumugai entrance and the mysterious host Cry arrives to welcome Kairi and invite him into the red-light district.

Indeed Kairi gets super suspicious about it...

The second scene has a quite different atmosphere. It's a sunny morning in Oudou, the rich district of Kujikawa and players can get the first pieces of information about the "spririted away" mystery that afflicts the story, from a TV program.

...And a bored girl is apparently annoyed because she can't be part of the menace...? 😓
(Also, Kairi is nowhere to be seen in this scene...)

Before she leaves for school, a mysterious finding takes place too...! 😕


Coding's progresses.
As today the words count of the coding amounts to 23,539 words!

The demo has currently 9/10 scenes and 19 choice menus. A mini game still needs to be implemented as well.

A playtest by Livestraes of the coded (and debugged) part was done earlier today. She read through it in two hours (normal speed). (And well, she had fun lol)

PBS's merchandise first disclosure.
With the demo release approaching some promotional merchandise will be produced as well. Some of it will have a commemorative purpose to celebrate this first release, and its availability will be limited in time. This is the early disclosure for the planned merchandise release:

  • Keychain set (Kujikawa Arc): will include Kairi, Fujisa, Teru, Isahai and "alt ver. Kairi".
  • A mini booklet (Kujikawa Arc): a ten-page digital booklet with rough sketches of the sprites and backgrounds. In other words, a "collectors' mini behind-the-scenes". It will be free but its avalaibility will be limited in time. (Because with new progresses in development, new and updated booklets will be released).
  • An Artbook (Kujikawa Arc): a forty-page, digital artbook with professional layout, containing sprites' espressions and poses, background artworks and work in progresses and the behind-the-scenes documents (even photos) with comments. The costs (PDF) will be 19,00 €. 


New screenshots are coming soon! 
Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

Early screenshots from the demo!

[Week 84]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • Updated GUI For Textboxes
  • Choice Screen
  • Coding's Progresses 

While everyone is enjoying summer holidays, PBS is finally undergoing the coding for the demo! 😎 What will probably be the busiest month of the year has just started!

Updated GUI for textboxes.
Before starting the coding I tried to tweak the GUI a little bit. The issue was, when two or more characters are on screen at the same time, it was a bit difficult to tell apart the one speaking straightaway. Usually visual novels display the name of the character right above the text but PBS had it a bit different.

Since my first attempts at visual novels back in the years, I wanted the player to be able to recognize the character speaking even without looking at the name. The first version of PBS had a small icon different for each character on the side, the version I had worked on until a few months ago had the namebox for each character displayed in a different color.

Recently I changed every namebox to white while displaying the font for the names in different colors. But that didn't seem to be enough. When reading at high speed it was still necessary to look up at the name of the character from time to time, and since it's kind of far from the text that would have meant to make the player's glance moving away from the dialogues...

For this reason I thought of dusting off that first version of PBS and using icons for each of the main characters. The final result looks like this:

Choice screen.
An update was performed for the choice screen as well! Well, I never had a proper user interface for choice menus and I'm not ruling out that it will undergo massive editing in the future, as this is just the very first version of it.

Working on the GUI is very difficult for me since I haven't that much experience. As I previously wrote in one past entry I wanted the graphic of the game to be white and purple but as the GUI was not looking good in those colors, I'm thinking about having it in black and white.

Coding's progresses
Let's go back to the initial topic of this entry once again: the coding for the demo has started!

Not all the assets are ready yet though but I plan to have all the scenes for which I have them ready coded within August 15th! 

Currently, I've coded three scenes, for a total of over 6k words in five days. It may seem a tiny amount, but one of the three scenes is action-packed! This means animations, a lot of sfx, timing, etc. And there was also a bit of branching too. The next scenes included in this schedule are a lot less action (two of them are the Cafeteria scene and the Isahai scene, for which the coding will be entirely revised and tweaked).


Updates on the coding will continue on the next blog post. That's all for today. 
Thank you for reading, see ya next week!🙌💜

The coding has started!

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