Archive for the 'games' Category

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!

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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.

Perceived Quality

It’s time to go on a bit of a tangent!

So this should be the year where we get to see the original Higurashi digital novel released on Steam! There is still no date, but apparently the game is going through a re-translation before its final release to the mainstream masses.

I’m currently going through the second half of Higurashi myself, and a little shine on the script probably wouldn’t hurt, putting aside the faults that were probably in the original to begin with.

This is great (even if old) news to the vn crowd though. Lately, especially with the Greenlight program, visual novels have seen a small surge in places like Steam and the general gaming media. From the start with Analogue to japanese titles like World End Economica.

And that’s not all. Recently a wave of crowd-funded visual novels have appeared on Kickstarter, most of them very successful. And many of them very ambitious, such as the returned SunRider and Exogenesis, two of my favourites at the moment.

For me at least, it raises an interesting question though. Looking at the last two projects, and then back at Higurashi, there is a steep difference between the two when counting first impressions and glossy surfaces.

"I just want to be a real girl!"

“I just want to be a real girl!”

This is going to be a hard sell to people who don’t already know of the novel or the popular anime based on it. (There are un-official patches on the internet that replaces the original art with the art from the polished console ports, but because of copyright issues I wonder if these will be able to make it to the Steam Workshop?)

Looking past the visual impression, Higurashi also lacks another thing that visual novels have become known for – interaction. There are no choices or branching storylines in this novel. Past each chapter the game likes to tease you with “good or bad endings” and “difficulty” depending on what you as a reader has deducted on your own so far, but that is all. It is simply a linear textbook with added sound and pictures. (For those wondering, without patches the game also has no voice acting. It’s a true barebones doujin game).

For those who know and love Higurashi however, this doesn’t stop them. After all, to my knowledge it didn’t take much for this title to be greenlit in the first place. There are plenty of people who already got this from MangaGamer (me included), and more that want to make their first buy on Steam. For these people the shoddy art and simple UI doesn’t deter from what the game is really about. Some are willing to look past it, and for others this simple style is part of the story’s charm.

How much leeway does this give other non-japanese indie games? Will people be just as willing to look past the simplicities of the surface of similar games that are not from Japan, and find similar hidden gems?

It’s a difficult subject. With the increased focus on this part of the market, both “good” and even more “bad” are flooding through, and no one has the time or patience to look through it all. Without Higurashi’s reputation, something of similar looks and simplicity will probably find it difficult to find proper footing in the market. But the question of what people find “acceptable” in terms of art and presentation still intrigues me every time titles like these manage to make it through, when they have competition like this.

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What are your thoughts on the subject?

(And speaking of Steam Greenlight, have you voted for Blue Rose yet?)

What’s brewing?

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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″…

Blue Rose best Romance of 2013!

Blue Rose best Romance 2013

VN’s Now! announced their winners for the 2013 Best Of’s, and Blue Rose got the spot for Best Romance!

A big thank you to the site that has also given the game and White Cat a nice bit of attention with their review and interviews!

And of course a congratulations to the other winners on the site, especially Muesli and Dischan for winning “English Visual Novel of the Year” and “Studio/EVN Circle of the Year”!

Here’s to hoping we can all keep it up in the new year!

Blue Rose full release!

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The final version of Blue Rose has been released! A demo is now also available, for trying out the novel.

Get it now to experience the story of Lena Ehrenfeldt, the Templar who goes M.I.A in the mountains during a mission to escort an important ambassador. Help solve the mysteries of what happens in the lonely village hidden there, throughout 5 different character routes with each a good or a bad outcome.

The full version of the game also includes extra short stories that are unlocked after playing through the game’s different routes, as well as image and music galleries.

All who bought the beta version will recieve an email with instructions to download the newest version.

Blue Rose Beta

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Blue Rose beta has been released into the wild!

– What exactly is the beta version?

The beta version of Blue Rose is effectively the entire, full game of Blue Rose. It contains the full story, artwork and music that is expected to be in the final version, along with the unlockable short stories for those who complete the five routes in the game, though they won’t be accessible until the first update. It will be available at a cheaper price than the final release.

– What is NOT in the beta?

Some of the polish is missing, as well as proper testing by a larger crowd. Not all menus are fully costumized, so users of Ren’Py will recognise some standard configurations here and there. Some things, like the Gallery, will not be available right away either.

– So why release now?

Because I want all of you to get the chance to get in early, and help test it out! Does it work on your computer? Do you have suggestions or corrections to the text? Then throw all of your comments my way! Even the slightest comments that might seem insignificant are welcome.Post them to me here on the blog, or send me a mail: ltb@the-white-cat.com !


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