Archive for the 'Angelic Orbs' Category

AO: A question of linearity

lets_ruin_our_friendship

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.

Group_stakeout_l

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.)

Zyra_eyes

– 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.

 

Eruda_photo

– 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.

kiyoshi_zyras-warning

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!)

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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 🙂

 

Angelic Orbs: Fallen Star

Tia

Time to talk a little about what was introduced earlier – White Cat’s next visual novel, Angelic Orbs: Fallen Star.

Angelic Orbs is the story about Tia, an angel who is unable to return home, and the three people she meets who feel just as lost in the world as she does. Together this unlikley group begins a journey to correct the wrongs she has done, and learn the truths of the world they live in.

AO is planned to take part over three or so ‘episodes’ or ‘chapters’. Fallen Star is the first, and will contain a story that hopefully works well on its own, but also leads into the greater scheme of things that follow in the next chapters. This is done because AO in general is a much bigger story than Blue Rose was, and because I plan to try out a number of new things in the way the story is told and the visuals are presented. Splitting the story into well-sized chapters will make the completion of each of them easier to accomplish, and let me get a game out there earlier to see if this kind of projects works well with its audience. And for the things that do not work, I should be able to improve that so much more for the following chapters.

sketches1

Angelic Orbs is not BxG or GxB – the player is not a narrator but an observer, and the ways you can interact with the story are shaped, maybe limited, around that. There will be times where you can change the point of view on the story that unfolds, and a few occassions where you can interfere with the with the circumstances that the group finds themselves in.

At the time of writing another kind of interactivity is also planned. Whenever the group finds themselves in a situation where they have no choice but to fight, you will be able to control these battles in a turnbased rpg-like manner.

sketches2

At this point however, the game is still very early in its production. It is currently in the writing phase, with the first draft of the first four parts of the chapter written so far. Many of the concepts about player mechanics and even art presentation are therefore still up in the air, and many things can yet change before the final game sees completion in the distant future. I will most likely return with several different blog posts about this, while also trying to gauge people’s thoughts on different ways of handling these topics.

sketches3

The sad part about this point of the production is that there is so little to show! Therefore we will have to make do with these little concept sketches for now. If I can set some time aside for it, then hopefully I will have some more visual things to present at some point, and maybe do a more indepth presentation of the world and the characters that this vn will be about.

So see you next time!

What’s brewing?

ao_eyes

Time to finally talk a little about what is currently going on with White Cat!

It’s been almost half a year since Blue Rose was released, and I’m very thankful for the nice reception of our Visual Novel so far! Even with private and open testing though, there will almost always be hiccups with the script after release. ome of you have sent in your corrections and comments on these, a few of them very detailed as well, and I really appreciate it. They will all be taken into consideration, and a future patch for the script will take all these things into consideration. Feel free to still send me a mail if you run into something bugging you!

Remember that the game is also still up for voting on Steam Greenlight, should you wish to show your support there.

Now for what is currently on the drawing table for White Cat. Those who have followed my twitter or tumblr, you may have already noticed me mention one of these projects in passing a couple of times. I have been reworking and rewriting Angelic Orbs from the bottom up for a little while now, our company’s next big visual novel title. Some people might know the title from our first free vn from years back, while a very few might even remember its roots as a webcomic from even longer ago.

The first vn of this title was a kind of sidestory, while this project is a complete telling of the original story from the ground up. It will also be different from Blue Rose in a few ways, one of the most noteable ones the fact that this is not a first-person story. The reader will not step directly in the shoes of a protagonist and aiming for romance routes, but will instead follow a small group of protagonists and influence their journey over the course of the story, sometimes even choosing what POV to follow in the coming events.

A few other features are in mind for this title, that I won’t speak of yet however. The script is in the middle of being written, as well as general character and world designs being made. Hopefully I can show you something more of this soon, though the game itself won’t be done in a while.

At the same time as this, I am also working on another project of a very different kind than Blue Rose and Angelic Orbs. It will be cute and deadly. But that is all I’m going to say about it so far.

And that is mostly what is going on at the moment! After our first big release we are hoping for 2014 to be another good and productive year, coming closer to bringing you great storytelling and entertainment.

And in the future if the support for it is there, I might return to this lonely folder on my desktop named “Blue Rose 2″…

The past or the present?

writing

I just stumbled across this article, that puts light on something that bothers me about me current project. It discusses how, in time, some authors in printed literature began to drift away from using third person past tense, to use third person present tense, most likely because they were inspired by the style of writing screenplays. The article then goes on to touch on how those two different ways of writing have a different impact on the way your story is perceived, and that you should choose one depending on what you wish to achieve. This is all when discussing traditional novel writing.

How does this come out when writing for the visual novel format? They are usually a mix between choose-your-own-adventure stories and comics, making them very different when approached from a writer’s angle, sometimes more than you’d think.

The script of most visual novels are written with a first person POV, putting the reader in the shoes of the protagonist. He’s seeing things happen, he makes the choice as they come up. Present tense lends itself well to this type of story, as you’re supposed to be there, experiencing all this, in a story where no one knows the ending yet. It is part of what sets visual novels apart from reading book or a comic.

In comics themselves, this issue most often does not exist, as there is no descriptive text – only dialogue. The rest is something you see happen, it’s not told.

The voices in my head, duking it out.

The voices in my head, duking it out.

Now what if you want to write a third-person visual novel?

This is what I’m currently doing, and it’s proving surprisingly challenging. You’re no longer “in the shoes” of one person who sees all this unravel – you’re not making choices of what one person in particular would think or do. Adding to this, I’m trying to lean more heavily on the visual side of things, mimicking the original comic roots of the story I’m writing. But that’s for another day.

I soon realised, that when returning to third person, I naturally wanted to revert back to past tense as well, as I used to do. It’s what I’m used to reading, and writing. And it’s something people might be more used to reading as well, as the article puts it. This is something I’m struggling with quite a bit at the moment – as a reader you’re still put directly into the action, you’re still making choices for these people on the screen and impacting their lives as you go – should it still not be present tense?

eri_blushingwhilereading

“Omg, the writing is so bad! What was she even thinking!?”

I think the evidence still points towards the latter, though I still have to be careful with not falling into pitfalls of old writing habits. But the subject interests me.

What are your thoughts on the subject, as readers and writers?

A little late, but…

Everyone else is doing it! ™

So here is a few words on my 2009. Well, the one related to my creative endeavours at least.

2009 saw my first release of a visual novel, Angelic Orbs: Broken Memories. It had taken me two years to make, and it was finally time to get it out of the door. In the end I couldn’t do all I wanted with it, but this seems to be a general problem to vn creators, and I’m still pretty happy with the result. Hopefully I can pull myself together and release the version with fixed english some time in the near future.

I also had a second release out, the small short story My Eternal Rival, which was featured as a part of the Cute, Light and Fluffy project. MER was very short and non-serious, and most of it was written on small pieces of paper while at work. But I still got very attached to the project, and I don’t regret taking part in it at all.

And so came to tough decision of what to work on next. I had a few ideas on hand that I was very interested in doing, and even started one of them. But in the end something (I’m not even sure what) changed my mind, and production began on the script for a new game set in the same general universe. An otome game. Something I thought I’d never make. But I’m taking up the challenge, and will hopefully succeed in making something interesting for girls to play, without it sinking completely into useless fluff. But that is for this year. Back to 2009.

Apart from the two mentioned VN’s I didn’t manage to much else of my own out there. My comic is still lying dormant although I constantly wish to return to it, but life has been too busy for me to work both on my game projects, the several new commissions that I received this year, and the comic at the same time. Hopefully I will be able to get something done on that soon.

That’s right, there is something else that I had released. The very first TCG cards with my illustrations on them.

All in all I think I came a long way this year when looking back at these achievements, along with my amazing 2-month long stay in Wales. But enough talking about me!

As Hime mentioned, there has also been a lot going on when it comes to translations of Japanese visual novels. Most of it something that the majority of VN fans thought would never happen, like Higurashi getting an official release in english, Jast partnering up with Nitro+ and visual novels released on the iPhone/iTouch.

But you probably already knew that.

So here’s to a great 2010! (Hopefully)

What next….

My first visual novel was finally released a few days back. A lot of things could have been done better, but in general I’m happy about the result.

Shortly the “Cute, light and Fluffy” VN project will hopefully be released as well, where I have contributed with a short story.

But apart from these things, what is up next?

For one thing I would like to return to updating my webcomic, but I have just been commissioned to do art for yet another game, and also have a lot of other loose ends to take care of. So unfortunately it seems like AO will have to wait a little bit longer.

But I’m already preparing for my next game project after Broken Memories as well. A couple of ideas have been circling in my head, but recent discussions on a certain forum have made me decide on a final story that I will start working on.

Yes, my next visual novel is going to be an otome game. In spite of me once saying that I would probably never make one that wasn’t BxG!
I have a story that I’m happy about, and have begun writing a few drafts. Other than that, there isn’t much I can say about this project yet. It’s still in its planning stages, and it will take a long time before it gets finished (Broken Memories took me 2 years after all).

Alright, time to get back to work!


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