Popular Post

Popular Posts

Recent post

Archive for November 2018

(Week 98-99)

...Of course the title is a joke! 😇 But there's a kernel of truth too, as there are many titles I was inspired by to create Pitch Black Serenade's story and gameplay. (There are also a handful of books actually). So this is what today's blog post is about.

I am not the kind of fan who like everything about a series of a genre. Most of the time I like part of it, or maybe a certain feature. And I enjoy analyze how this feature works and why it can entertain me this much.

Pitch Black Serenade wasn't entirely a 'spontaneous story'. I felt like writing a story about a certain topic, but then I had to build every piece of the scenario with a calculating mind. But I guess that this is nothing new to story creation, right? 😅

However, let's cut it short! Here are the games I took inspiration from and the reason behind it!

Kingdom Hearts.

Photo from 2011 😌

I grew up with KH and this series contributed in large part to define the kind of stories I want to write. Even before PBS I had tried to create a story that had that certain feature I found so cool in the KH series!

So what did I enjoy this much about KH? The fact that there are many different chapters with parallel stories and that linking all the pieces together is up to the player! 

The first time I had noticed about how much I enjoyed this feature was right when I was playing Kingdom Hearts II. Being able to collect pages of a mysterious diary linked to events happened elsewhere felt incredibly exciting! (...And this is also probably why back in the days I'd tried to draw a comic where the reader could find random diary pages once reached a certain scene... But this is another story...! 😌)

Final Fantasy Type 0.

Talking about Square Enix again, I enjoyed this title a lot, too. To be honest, after all this time I don't remember the details of the story but I do remember well what I found really interesting/shocking.

And it is that in Type 0 universe, when someone dies, their memory is erased from people's minds and no one would remember about them anymore. This is none other than the way the Crystals use to have soldiers less scared of risking their lives in war. But this was also one eerie story device that made the characters' development incredibly strong!

Yes, there is something similar in PBS, too. When people are abducted under some mysterious circumstances, their memory leaves families and friends' mind. It's not the work of the crystals, of course, and it doesn't involve death. It has some other meaning and it's part of the mystery the player is supposed to solve. I chose to be inspired by Type 0 because I simply found it very creepy!

Persona 2.

Persona 2 is my favorite Persona game among the ones I've played/watched. The game mechanics and the immersion in the story felt very cool and it's the game that started me on the whole create-a-visual-novel thing. You know who to blame for the perverse presence of Kairi in this world now!

What I found cool about this game was the 'talk with the demons' part. Aside from being a funny feature, it was a cool alternative to the classic RPG battle as well! For once, instead of bullets and spells, a player could use lines of dialogue or everyday actions in the hope to convince the demons in cooperating with them!

I took inspiration from it to shape the 'purple choices' in PBS, in the aim to have choices that the player would use to pursue a goal.

Dramatical Murder.

Everyone on the net was so into it, that I decided to give it a try.

Actually there's nothing about the story and the characters that was truly inspiring, but the interface and the coding was! The menus, the BGM, the packaging are truly stylish! And before those, the coding of the game was the real inspiration for me!

Until this point, I'd only experienced visual novel with few animations. Just going trough the common route in DMMD, I could see action scenes and a way of telling characters and expressing dialogues that was totally new to me.

This game is probably the reason why PBS got 'lively' action scenes.

The Witcher 2.

The Witcher 2's choice system and choice options in general are among the most inspiring ones I've ever experienced! In this game, Geralt possesses an "intimidating skill" which he can use to convince other characters to do whatever he asks. Translated in UI language, the choice menus have normal choices and choices that use this skill. To sign these particular choices... different icons representing an eye are placed right before the choice text!

Yup, I used an eye icon for Kairi's choices too. While playing The Witcher 2 I couldn't stop thinking how greatly that icon would convey the 'power' of the special choices, so I thought about using a similar device in PBS, too.


That's all about my thieving activity! 😇 Now you know something more about Pitch Black Serenade! Or maybe you just landed here and now are curious to try it? 😸 

If you haven't yet and you'd be interested in a mystery visual novel with a smart-ass as a main character, please follow the link below to get to the itch.io page where the demo is available for download!
Thank you for reading! 🙌💜

✨Download the demo!✨


How I stole from other games to make my own game.

[Week 97]

*:....:*・゜Table of contents *:....:*・゜
  • The Game's Themes (part I)
  • The Game's Themes (part II)

Two weeks have passed since the demo release! If you've played through it, thank you so much for your time! For an indie developer it means a lot! (If you haven't and want to, please check the Download section of this website).

For this week's post I thought about writing down some background information about the story, the characters and the gameplay you find in the demo. 

The game's themes (part I)
What kind of character is Kairi? And what's with those weird choices of his?
"Emotional blackmail", "Sweet talk", "Guilt trip"...? What do they come from?

As you probably experienced, Kairi can use a special variety of choices outlined in purple and introduced by an eye icon and... often containing quite an eerie text. And that's not all! You can add more of them into your choice menus and have a wider variety of options whenever you feel like manipulating or destroying someone.

Just decide the way that feels more satisfied, evil mastermind! 😋

Jokes aside, as I previously stated on this pages, PBS is not a game about good and evil and has nothing to do with morality and the likes. But that doesn't prevent Kairi from being offered the possibility to be a jerk. Why all this, then?

Let's start from Kujikawa, a tranquil country town secluded up the hills. Fujisa is the rich heir of the most ancient family in the region. Since childhood, her education has been so strict that she was never even allowed to go on a trip to her favorite place. Teru, her best friend, is in love with her but he has never confessed, more likely because he's not from a rich family like her and in such a town their love story would have no future. Everyone in town knows Fujisa, everyone at the elementary school, junior high and high school have been knowing about Teru and Fujisa being close, but no one actually knew a thing about them. No one ever came to help Teru or Fujisa with their own problems. 

Kujikawa is such a city. Sunny and joyful hills at the top while some other area sees supermarkets and shops close to make room for a red-light district in order for the inhabitants to flee from the pressure of keeping their appearances.

(Again, I don't mean to be a moralist and I'm not judging red-light districts or whatever. This is just the premise of the story as it is.)

Then Kairi moves to Kujikawa and someone with his personality could only thrive in such a situation. Bad soil grows bad grass, doesn't it?

As convenient as it is story-wise (lol), Kairi had lost all his memories right before moving to the countryside. At first, he appears like your average blank-expression-wearing visual novel protagonist who goes through events and let you choose about his life. Far from it.

We learn he's exceptionally smart because he passed the entry exam for university without much time to prepare for it and without even thinking about studying for it once during his academic life. And we also learn that what he feels and how he sees himself are different from the image that his very parents have of him.

What about his parents? They appear as a nice couple, trying their best to provide Kairi with the best things. His dad once states "Mundane days are the finest", and he really means it. As the whole family finds out mysterious furniture and belongings in one of the rooms of their house, he makes sure that the door and window to such a place are walled-up for good before next day's lunch time. He doesn't simply remove the non-desired items, he wants the event to disappear and be forgotten. And don't even consult anyone to proceed. It's not like his wife would ever question his deeds anyway.

Kairi's dad's was an extreme act and my rule is to go extreme whenever I can to better explain characters and events. Kairi spends everyday of his life with these people. They don't wall up physical doors every day of course, but they certainly wall up invisible ones because that's how they are.

Kairi lives with them and day after day he saw one door after another being walled up without warning. Until he grows up into the 22-year-old man who cheat on everyone.

Kairi should be excused at this point... but he's not, of course! What about his decisions then? Can't he just take responsibility and solve his situation?

The game's themes (part II)
Let's go back to the arsenal of deadly choices Kairi is provided with. Oh man, how do you even come up with such perversions?

And let's go back even further, when I first created Kairi, back in 2012. Back then I needed a protagonist that was overly cynical and cold. In the first draft of the story, Kairi dates a girl from university called Michiru just because she's a beauty (she was the early Fujisa, but without pedigree). The two enjoy a fairy-tale love relationship for a couple of weeks, until Michiru reveals her secret dream related to the show biz and Kairi dumps her on the spot because in his opinion, having a girlfriend with such a dream could ruin his image of future attorney. 

Kairi has other weird habits, like adding or subtracting imaginary points to everyone depending on their actions and thus having a chart where people in his life are rated and judged. This was the early method I used to describe the way he sees the world.

He was already kind of mean back then but for the final version of the story I wanted him to be extremely mean. Dumping Michiru all of a sudden and making her feel like she was never important to him was mean, but I thought that Kairi could do worse than that. Even in this case I wanted to go extreme.

(Luckily) it was not easy to find examples that I could take as a reference. Until I happen to read about people who act like Kairi in books and in hundreds of articles taken from psychologists' blogs. (But I'M NOT psychologist myself so be aware that my job was merely the one to use some information to shape Kairi).

For example, Kairi manages to win Fujisa's heart to the point she trusts him completely. He keeps repeating her how she's beautiful and Fujisa melts every time. Why is that? Is she weak to this sort of things?

Yes and no. As I mentioned before she's not much aware of the world, she follows others' guidance because she knows few to nothing about life. What is right and what is not, what is safe and what is harmful are clearly defined. There aren't grey zones and there aren't doubts. Kujikawa makes you grow with such a mindset.

Fujisa has her own personality, though. She questions about how right it really is to get married while giving up everything else. But again, that's what is labeled as 'right' and 'safe' so she don't go in details any further. Kairi takes advantage of this. 

Love bombing is a term coined in modern times to describe the act of giving a person great amount of positive attention, repeatedly. Kairi showers Fujisa with compliments and with how much he loves her and desires to be with her. At first, one receiving extremely praising words or love confessions of this sort might think that it's an exaggeration. The love bombing expects the affections to be repeated over and over, with conviction, though. So shortly after, the recipient convinces themselves that those words, as well as the love shown, are true. That they have never seen anything similar from anyone else because that kind of devotion is such a rare thing!

And by that time the victim is trapped for good in the manipulative bastard's web. Or so they say and write in books. Ahh, to think that such unnecessary drama happen in the world!

Similarly to the 'love bombing', all the other 'techniques' Kairi uses allow him to manipulate other people as he wishes. Kujikawa's inhabitants cheer up in the Choumugai, an outsider like Kairi decides to take advantage of everyone...!

Anyway, PBS is not going to become a psychological research. What I wrote was just to explain where characters came from. With such material I was able to render their actions and reactions more credible than they would have been without!

Continues in the next post...


Insights and background info will continue next week! In particular I plan to write about the choice system! I hope you've gotten a bit curious about this subject!

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

PBS: Behind the game.

- Copyright © Pitch Black Serenade - Theme - Powered by Blogger - Designed by Johanes Djogan -