Blue Rose 30% off on Steam!

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Steam’s summer sale has finally kicked off! If you have still been on the fence about buying Blue Rose, now might be the time – the fantasy visual novel is 30% off for the duration of the steam sale, ending on July 22nd:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/362660/

Happy shopping!

Blue Rose Steam Release Date – April 23rd 2015

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The Blue Rose steam version finally has a release date!

Barring no issues, Blue Rose will finally release on Steam on April 23rd 2015. That is, in less than a week!

The steam release will contain an updated script, a few corrected event CGs, as well as achievements and trading cards. Those who have already bought the game directly through the White Cat website will receive keys following release for activation on Steam itself.

The game on White Cat’s own website will of course also be updated to reflect the changes and improvements in the steam version, though there will be no achievements or trading cards.

AO: A question of linearity

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As mentioned earlier, it’s hard to share information about a game that is still only in the phase of having its script written. Not only do I not have many flashy pictures to show, but there is still so much that could change about the script itself that even sharing that is not really an option.

But now that the first draft of Angelic Orbs: Fallen Angel is finally finished (note: only the first draft), I will instead try and go in depth about another topic that tends to come up when working on the writing itself: and that is the matter of having the player affect the outcome of the game.

Those who have followed the sparce details about Angelic Orbs since its announcement would know that this game is not advertised to have differing endings based on choices. Instead it is officially planned to give you, the ‘observer’, different ways of seeing things unfold as they lead to an inevitable outcome.

However, that is not to say that there are no chances of things turning out differently. Since I began serious work on AO, possibilities and openings for making this into a game with mulitple (maybe very different) branches and outcomes tend to come up. It is something I’d definitely like to do if it turns out to be feasible, and as such it is one of those little things that like to gnaw at a creator’s mind and demand attention.

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Advertising the game as linear has been the most sensible and safest way to go so far, I believe. There is still a very large possibility that this is how the game will eventually turn out, and in that case I do not want to disappoint people by delivering something less than promised. Chances are, no matter how much I mention it, there are someone out there who will still be disappointed.

To be honest, I am already worried about making this post at all, in the fear of giving people false expectations, or the idea that the first option would merely be the loser’s version of the second. But here we go, into the brave unknown.

To help understand why all of this is so uncertain, and why it sometimes nags so much at me personally, I will try and go through some of the considerations that could stand in the way of of a truly branching Angelic Orbs:

– Workload

I am of the belief that if AO has to go multi-ending, it has to do it properly. Which means it won’t just be minor variations of the outcomes, but proper, branching stories that are very different from eachother. I want to make this game the best I can be at this point in time.

Considering the general theme and direction of the script, as it looks at this very moment, there is potential for two, maybe even three distinct branches, that will determine how the story evolves and, ultimately, ends. Angelic Orbs is not a small story to begin with. This means that the amount of script that would need to be written and illustrated/adapted into VN format would see a massive increase. It would most certainly push back release, and increase not only expenses, but also the risk of creating this game altogether. (The “risk” part is something I wish didn’t matter this much, but as a lone, starving artist this is sadly a big issue.)

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– Continuation

Angelic Orbs consists of more than one game. The early branching would happen already in the first part, and the transition into the continuation would have to be handled properly.

I already mostly know how to handle the question of whether a player has savegames or not, but there is also another point in this that may affect people’s impression of the game. Chances are that the first part will not have any major differences to its ending, even if your choices so far will still have major impact on what happens further ahead. Considering people’s reactions to to things such as the first episodes of Telltale Games, this is worth keeping in mind, I feel. It’s no fun to finish something that is supposed to have a beginning and an end, and not knowing if what you did actually mattered or not.

This point is still up in the air however, as it can’t really be said how it would work until more of the script would have been completed.

 

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– Balance

Making sure all branches feel worthwhile.

It goes without saying, but all of these possible turns of the story would also have to be of acceptable quality, and feel like they were worth going through. The best possible outcome is if one player ended up only going through one of the paths, and still felt like they experienced a full, enjoyable story, and not something that was merely tacked on and lacking in substance. I would be glad to see different players have their reasons to choose different outcomes and journies as their favourites, rather than only having one true story that made sense to them. If thelatter was true, I’d rather stay on a more linear path, and keep at telling the story I originally had in mind.

While the existing story of Angelic Orbs is mostly sorted and ready for writing, I must admit that these possible variations are still just very vague ideas and concepts in my mind. And I only want them to be there if they end up working out.

This, of course, links back to point one – workload.

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I hope this gives some insight in the challenges of working this kind of game/script, be it one like AO, or a traditional romantic visual novel where the creator has to decide between staying with the three original routes, or maybe adding two more that fans wished were there. We would all love to do the second, if the circumstances are right for it.

(To see more concepts and other art-related news more frequently, feel free to visit my tumblr!)

Onwards to a new year

I hope you’re all having a merry Christmas and a happy New Year when we get that far!

This is the time of year where most people do a lot of reviewing and looking both back and forth in what they have accomplished, and what they hope to do. 2014 has been a generally quiet year for White Cat on the outside. Most noteably is the fact that we managed to get Blue Rose Greenlit on Steam, something that I am still terribly excited and grateful for! Unfortunately I have not been able to make the Steam release itself happen this year. If you are interested in what changes are happening to the game that causes this wait, you can read about some of them here.

Of course that isn’t the only thing that has been going on. But rather than go on about that again, I’d rather mention some of those things through the goals for 2015. These are the ones I’m quite certain that will be completed in the following year, in expected chronological order:

– Blue Rose Steam release
– Finish Angelic Orbs: Fallen Star script, shift focus to other game assets
– Redo Broken Memories script
– Finish AO: Fallen Star editing

It is still not certain whether AO: Fallen Star will be ready for release next year or not. It is my general goal for it to do so, but most of it rides on how things go when production of the game’s other assets can properly begin. I have considered options such as Kickstarter and Patreon to improve the odds, but this is not yet set in stone.

I would also very much like to go through with the remake of my first (and very unpolished) visual novel, Broken Memories. This should hopefully bring it up to a more enjoyable level, and to give an idea of the things to come in the bigger game. While I create bigger, commercial games now, I do like the idea of still having smaller things to offer on the side, and I think this little side story still has some potential for you all.

In general I hope 2015 is a year where you will be able to see more come out of White Cat, and I really do look forward to sending Angelic Orbs out in the world, be it in one or both forms. Here is to a great new year :)

 

Rewrite – final impressions

I recently finished the latest Key visual novel Rewrite, so thought I’d do a post of my impressions of the game like I did with Little Busters. This is not a review, but a general collection of thoughts I had while playing through it, something which will hopefully make sense. I will also try to refrain from posting serious spoilers or how the game ends. Also, like last time, this is likely to turn into quite a big post!

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So, Rewrite! The title alone gives great opportunities for jokes, should one feel like it. It would be so easy… but I shall try and avoid it.

Continue reading ‘Rewrite – final impressions’

Blue Rose is Greenlit!!

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Thanks to everyone’s support, Blue Rose is now greenlit and ready to join the rising number of visual novels on Steam! Give eachother a good pat on the back, and throw some confetti around!

Of course being greenlit is not the end – it only mean that the game is now allowed to be posted in their store, but the final release is not quite ready yet. I want Blue Rose to be presented the best way it can be when it arrives on the store. Most of the things I want to do with it have been mentioned before both here and on twitter, but here is what you can expect from the Blue Rose Steam release:

  • Improved script – I got myself a very promising editor, and am confident that the upcoming script patch will greatly improve the text of the game, getting rid of the typos that are still there and generally give it an extra polish.
  • Trading Cards – I am planning to add trading cards, especially as this is something that some people seem to have looked forward to.
  • Achievements – of course!
  • Soundtrack DLC

I really want to provide steam keys to people who have supported the game until now by buying it, and will look into the possibility of doing so! News on this front will follow after the release.

So when will it happen?

I can’t promise any specific date as of yet, mostly because of the script improvements. It has taken some time to find a reliable editor, and it might still take a couple of months at worst. Blue Rose’s 1 year anniversary is coming up next month though, so I am hoping to be able to do something close to that time, if all goes well!

Steampunk, Otomes and Dreaming Stars

"Get behind me. The games, they are flooding in!!"

“Get behind me. The games, they are flooding in!!”

Some great news came up on the visual novel front at AX14, with some nice big story-focused titles announced to come out from the different VN companies here in the west. I’m excited about quite a few of them, more than I have been for VN releases in a while. I’ll touch briefly on some of them here, and will likely return to take a closer look at all of them as time goes by.

To start with, there is the big player, MangaGamer. With two of their titles, MangaGamer confirmed their expansion into Otome and BL territory with the games OzMafia!! and No, Thank you!!! (what is with all those exclamation marks!?!?)

More than that, they also gave a bit of news on their long awaited Steam release of Higurashi. In an earlier post I mentioned the concern for how Higurashi would be received by non-fans on Steam due to its very basic graphics, something that is now being resolved in an interesting way: The Steam release will get its own graphical makeover, with new character art by artist Kurosaki. A teaser of the new art was shown on MangaGamers blog:

Higurashi_002-450x337As the matter of rights would likely get in the way of using the Playstation version of the art, this is an interesting solution I had not seen coming. Along with how some of the translations of 07th Expansion’s works have been handled, this shows some really nice and close cooperation between the two parties in bringing these titles overseas. I look forward to seeing if this makeover only goes as far as character sprites, or if we get new backgrounds or even event CGs as well. Maybe the latter is too much to hope for?

The last big thing from MangaGamer was their new partnership with Liar-Soft, a company that I have been interested in for quite a while though I have not managed to try any of their games yet. The title MangaGamer is bringing from them first is Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning, a steampunk visual novel.

I’m really excited for this one – Liar-Soft appears to make interesting stories, and the art is very beautiful. (This opening doesn’t beat the one for Shikkoku no Sharnoth though, still one my favourite videos and songs.)

According to this tweet from Moogy, the game also seems to consist in very large part of a female PoV. I wonder how it all comes together, and it is definitely something that intrigues me. Different viewpoints like this in visual novels can be interesting.

Sekai Project is also proving a force to be reckoned with. After their work with World End Economica, and the promising Fault coming up, they have now announced releasing the first of the Grisaia games in english. This is a game that has had an english fan translation for a while, and even before then I remember often hearing this title come up when people were asked to mention great VN titles. So far it seems like another title I will be looking very much forward to, and I’m pleased to see such solid and big VNs being released commercially in english.

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And last but not least! Sekai Project have also come together with VisualArts, securing a release of Planetarian for Steam.

For many people who got into visual novels around the same time as me, Planetarian holds a dear place in their hearts. It is a choiceless novel, or ‘Kinetic Novel’, with only two characters – only one of them actually shown on screen. It is a great example of what stories can be told in the medium, without taking hours to slog through like some of the titles mentioned above, and I will be sure to pick it up again when it comes out. Especially since I believe the digital download I once bought is now defunct. Or at least it was, for quite a while.

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I hear Planetarian has been out on iOS for quite a while before this, but Steam should be a good platform for raising much more awareness of the title. As well as one other important factor: this means VisualArts/Key could finally be inclined to release more titles here in the west. I really hope this will help convince them that bringing over more games is a viable option.

From all this I definitely think Gahkthun, Grisaia and Planetarian were the most exciting announcements for me. OzMafia and No, Thank you! are also very interesting, if only for the fact that they mean that the western companies are finally giving those genres some more attention. I don’t know much about the two titles personally, but will be keeping an eye out for them now after these news. Of the two I am most likely only going to be interested in OzMafia, a game that will hopefully prove to be a good representative of the genre, and convince them to go further with games for the female market.



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