Tower of Kartage

It was another slow couple of weeks for the Visual Novel as Fred tried to get a few other things finished up and out of the way. Hopefully another week or so and he’ll be back to work on the comic and VN fulltime.

TowerOfKartageFinal One of the things Fred was working on was the final cover to Chemiclord’s new Megatokyo Endgames novel: The Tower of Kartage. You can buy it now in paperback or for the Kindle from Amazon or for the Nook from Barnes and Noble. It looks pretty good.

Now that The Tower of Kartage is finished, Chemi has been back at work (with a little help from Shadow and I) writing some filler and branch scenes for the VN, including some of the early ends where Piro and Largo go home rather than stay in Japan. Fred will still apply his magic touch to the final product, but as with the core route scripting, we’re trying to get it most of the way there to minimize the Fred-time needed and get the game done faster.

MugiSwimsuit

Fred has also spent a lot of time trying to finish up the Megatokyo 2015 Swimsuit Calendar. It has been a lot of work, but it should be done soon and available in the newly reopened Megagear store.

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Speaking of the Megagear store, Fred also put more one-of-a-kind original arts up for sale. Most of them sold very quickly, but there are still a few left, like the lovely Miho above. Fred also has a large number of new prints, including some lovely Mugis, that he will be making available in the store soon.

For those of you expecting Kickstarter rewards, they have not shipped yet, largely because of the slow progress on the VN itself. Don’t worry if you have moved in the meantime. Fred will verify everyone’s address through Kickstarter before shipping anything out, though that is likely still a ways off.

And finally, a reminder that Fred broadcasts a lot of his drawing work for the comic, VN, calendar, and other stuff on Twitch. He will often announce when he is drawing live on his Twitter or Facebook page, but not always. The best way to make sure you catch a livedraw is to follow him on Twitch and have them notify you when Fred goes live. Join us for the livedraws. They are a lot of fun.

Back to School

It was another slow couple of weeks on the Visual Novel front, as Fred put time in on some other things. VN work should start picking back up soon though. Fred and Sarah’s son Jack started back to school, which should give Fred a lot more time for work.

Gamerz

Fred did draw enough Largos to finish off the current Tsubasa apartment scene and into the aftermath. He has also started work on a core set of character images for Largo. That should help us move forward more quickly, once he has it done.

ShoppingClean

Fred also redrew the main background for the shopping trip in Akihabara. The foreground items, storefronts, and the interiors are on separate layers which move at different speeds as you pan across. It gives it a 3d parallax effect that is really neat. Fred still needs to draw the store interiors, but this was a big step forward.

TowerOfKartage

Fred finished the cover art for Chemiclord’s upcoming Endgames novel about the adventures of young Pirogoeth. Chemi’s recent back surgery was a success, and he’s back at work getting the book finished. It should be out fairly soon, so keep an eye out on Fred’s twitter or facebook, or at Chemi’s blog: http://tkocreations.com/

WarmthCat

Fred has been doing writing and some initial drawing to revive his old b-comic Warmth. The screenshot above was from some coloring experiments. Hopefully we’ll have more news about Warmth soon.

Fred cleaned up the warehouse and reopened the MegaGear store. His t-shirt printer is still broken, so t-shirts and hoodies are not currently for sale. But the old posters, fine art prints, and various swag are once again available. Fred is looking into alternatives for t-shirts, and he is working on other new stuff for the store.

JunkoSwimsuitSmall

One of those new things for the store is the 2015 MegaTokyo swimsuit calendar. He will color it, but he is doing the base drawings first, including the lovely Junko above. Look for the calendar soon at http://www.megagear.com

I’m back… sorta.

Hello, everyone, Chemiclord here.  I’ve been the quiet one of the development team, with the feeling that once I have something worth saying, I’ll say it.

I was brought onto this project to help Fred with the writing of scripts and alternate paths… and well… it hasn’t really shaped up that way.  Soon after accepting the position, I was laid up with a herniated disc that really limited just what I could do.

Finally, this morning, after all the X-rays, MRIs, nerve block procedures, medications, and other various pokings and proddings, it culminated in surgery to remove part of the L5-S1 disc.  The surgery itself was a success (so successful that the doctors in charge didn’t even feel the need to keep me overnight), but now comes the recovery.  I won’t be back to full speed quickly, but at least I can start to provide the help I was hired to do.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on the Endgames novels, and on that score I’ve been able to push through the first draft and begin the revision process.  The goal is to have that ready for sale by the end of the month.  I’ll try to keep people interested updated on my personal blogspace at TKO Creations.

Thank you for the thoughts, and I’ll try to update soon with reports of actual work done!

Process Tweaks

It was not the best couple of weeks for progress on the Visual Novel. Fred and family were away for a few days. Then when he got back, he had some frustrating struggles trying to get finished with the rest of the scenes in Tsubasa’s apartment. We will be making another couple of process changes to try to improve things going forward. He did get some stuff done though.

TsubasaAptBeer

As I mentioned before, I am doing the initial ren’py scripts based on Fred’s storyboard thumbnails, and then Fred has been tweaking the script and drawing the artwork. The above screenshot is one example. The initial script had Largo enter standing on the left opposite Tsubasa. Having him in the background playing games works better. It’s a good change.

But Fred is finding those kind of script code changes difficult in practice. He’s making mistakes and misreading the code, which takes time and leaves him frustrated. That’s not surprising. Fred’s a smart guy, but he’s a comic artist, not a programmer. He can do it; it’s just not easy for him. To try to improve this, Fred will be doing less code tweaking himself, and will instead tell me or Shad0w what he wants changed and we’ll code it for him. Hopefully this will leave him less frustrated and give him more time to draw.

Up till now, we have been letting the script drive what artwork Fred needs to draw. This was intended to limit the character drawings that Fred had to make to only those that were actually used. We’re finding though that this is allowing us too much freedom in specifying the artwork in script, which ends up making Fred do more artwork.

Fred hit one of those this past week, where he drew a new Tsubasa facial expression, but found the result nearly identical to one that he had already drawn. It was a frustrating waste of time and effort. To try to minimize this going forward, Fred is going to draw a core set of character images, in the common standing position, with common facial expressions, and with the common torso, head, eye, and mouth positions. Then when I do the initial scripts and Fred tweaks them, we will first see if one of those core drawings will work, before we specify something new. Hopefully this will result in fewer total character drawings in the end.

In other Visual Novel news, Shad0w has been working on the minigames, Klange has been working on the data infrastructure to support them, and DarkMorford has been working on overall organization. It sounds like they are coming along nicely.

TheShaggyFreak has posted some more samples of the background music to the Beta section of the visual novel forum. If you are a registered beta tester, go check them out.

Chemiclord had done a little more writing for some filler areas and for the branch and alternate routes. But he is currently laid up with serious back problems, which has made things difficult. Please keep him in your thoughts.

Fred’s son Jack starts school this week, which should give him more time to draw. We’re hopeful that and our process tweaks will get the Visual Novel production cranked back up again. Fred is also looking at reopening the MegaGamers store reasonably soon, though his T-shirt printer remains out of commission and he’s still struggling to decide what to do there.

Tsubasa’s Apartment

We made decent progress on the visual novel in the last two weeks. Fred finished up the Anna Miller’s scene, most of the following Tsuabasa’s apartment scene, and started on the Gamerz store that follows. Here are some screenshots:

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TsubasaAptKotatsu

Fred drew a few extra background views of Tsubasa’s apartment plus one for Junpei’s apartment since it’s right next door, all for use later when we get to the Largo route. Being a former architect, Fred couldn’t resist laying out Tsubasa’s apartment, complete with a functional location for the wet wall and utilities.

TsubasaAptPlan

Fred was unhappy with some of the Tsubasa’s apartment artwork and needed to redo it, but now we’re moving forward again. He’s also been grumbling that he’s getting tired of drawing the guys, but fortunately we’re almost at scenes with more of the MT girls.

Shadow added an animation for Piro drinking out of his beer mug for the later beer garden scene. One of the problems with the first person perspective of the Piro route is that you can’t see Piro. We could describe Piro taking a drink with text, like many visual novels would do. But it feels a little awkward that way, and goes against our efforts to “show, don’t tell”. A little animation of a rising and falling beer mug seems like it will work better.

The MT visual novel isn’t going to be done anytime soon. But we are moving along well now, and it is looking good.

A reminder that Fred broadcasts a lot of his visual novel and comic work live on http://www.twitch.tv/fredrin

He will sometimes announce a live draw on twitter or the MT facebook page, but not always. If you want to catch more of them, you can sign up for a twitch account, follow Fred’s channel, and set twitch to notify you whenever Fred goes live. If you miss it live, you can also view replays of Fred’s recent drawing sessions, although you might miss some of the background music due to twitch’s new overly-aggressive copyright bots.

Join us for the live draws. They are a lot of fun.

Game Show

We made more good progress on the Visual Novel over the last two weeks.

Fred did the art for the Tokyo Game Show, vending machines, and about half of the Anna Miller’s scene. It all looks pretty good. Here are some screenshots:

MetalBearSolidAnnaMillers

Fred seems pretty happy with how things are going now, with the system we have in place. The pace should continue to pick up as we go along. We’re starting to get to parts of the comic where locations can get reused, like Anna Miller’s, Tsubasa’s apartment, and Megagamers. It’s much less work to adapt an existing drawing than to have to create new for every scene. The same will apply to the characters as we have more scenes where they stay dressed the same.

Chemiclord has been working on script for Piro’s thoughts during the train rides to and from Narita airport and such. It’s looking good.

TheShaggyFreak has made more progress on the background music and sound effects. If you are a registered beta tester, check out the beta section of the VN forum for some samples.

We’re over a year now since the Kickstarter ended, and there is still a long way to go before the game is finished. But it feels like we’re really making progress now, and the game itself looks like a lot of fun. Thank you for your patience. Fred and the rest of us on the team are doing our best to make this game well worth the wait.

Back in Gear

Visual Novel development moved back into gear these past two weeks. We’ve made some good progress.

Fred burned through the art for scenes where Largo gets his Cool Thing, Piro tries to buy tickets back home, the night spent in the park, the morning burning down the computer store, the scene where Tsubasa first appears, and Largo breaking his arm (again). It all looks good and works well in the VN format. Here are a couple of screenshots:

TicketAgent

HiTsubasa

We have mentioned before about how Fred is drawing far more expression and character image changes than is typical in a Visual Novel. It’s a lot of work, but it fits the needs of the MegaTokyo story much better. In that same vein, Fred has Shad0w and I adding a quick mouth close/open at dialogue advancement points where a speaking character’s image doesn’t otherwise change. It makes it feel a little more natural and less static. The Visual Novel isn’t the MegaTokyo Anime we’d all like to see, but it’s as close as we are likely to get.

DarkMorford has been improving the shopping game for Piro and Largo’s trip to Akihabara. It’s looking good.

TheShaggyFreak has been working on the background music and sounds. He’ll be creating as much as he can himself, and using creative commons stuff for the rest. A lot of the work is in just editing things so that the music loops well. Shaggy has been posting some examples in the beta tester section of the VN forum. If you are registered as a beta tester, go check them out.

This was a good couple of weeks overall for the VN. If we can manage to sustain this kind of pace, we’ll all feel a lot better and have a finished game that much sooner.

More Slowness

It has been another slow couple of weeks for work on the MegaTokyo Visual Novel. Fred’s mother continued to struggle with her health, and that understandably took time away from both the comic and visual novel.  It sounds like things are looking up, so we’re hopeful that VN work will be back in gear again soon.

One positive thing that did happen recently was that we have officially moved to Shad0w’s Renpedit tool for the visual novel script development. It provides a nice flowchart style organizer for the script, and makes managing the numerous story branches much easier.

Below you can see a short section of the Piro route when he and Largo are on the plane to Japan. The white blocks are sections of story script, the yellow diamond is a player decision, and the blue blocks are variables that will have effects later on in the story. You can see this section in action in the demo Fred posted to youtube: http://youtu.be/hAxZyyUJY60?t=9m10s

Renpedit

Shad0w is still actively improving Renpedit, but it is far enough along that we are using now for the MTVN development. If you are interested, you can find it here: https://bitbucket.org/theshad0w/renpedit

Slow Couple of Weeks

Progress on the Visual Novel has been slow over the last couple of weeks. Fred got his Cintiq back from repairs, which was good news. But then his mother had some serious medical problems and has been in and out of the hospital, which has understandably affected work on the VN and comic.

He did get a few things done though, including some rough backgrounds for Piro’s shopping trip in Akihabara, which looks like it will be fun.ShoppingRough

Other news tidbits:

TheShad0w is getting close to done with his ren’py flowcharting tool. He has dubbed it Renpedit, and it looks like it will be a big help with keeping all the various story branches organized. You can find it here: https://bitbucket.org/theshad0w/renpedit

TheShaggyFreak [William Chrapcynski] has been making progress on the background music, recently working on the Narita Airport scene. The few examples I heard sound pretty good. I don’t think he has posted any of the actual MegaTokyo game music online, but you can hear some of his other work here: https://soundcloud.com/theshaggyfreak

Chemiclord [Thomas Knapp] revealed that he has been working on a series of MegaTokyo Endgames light novels, the first of which will be about Pirogoeth’s early years. More here: http://tkocreations.com/2014/05/15/lets-try-this-again/

And finally, due to some of the changes ongoing at justin.tv since google bought twitch.tv from them, Fred has once again moved his drawing livestream, this time to twitch. Tune in and join us for the livedraw fun. http://www.twitch.tv/fredrin