Monthly Archives: March 2014


Fred has been doing a lot of writing and programming lately for the visual novel. He’s not used to this much writing in one big stretch, and it’s going slower than he’d like. He’s a little down about it at the moment, but still plugging away.

Adapting a webcomic to a visual novel is a bit like adapting a book to a movie. You can’t just translate it directly. They’re different art forms, and what works well in one may not work well in the other. Adapting the story so that it does work well takes some doing.

One of the things Fred has been doing to help make that happen is to storyboard it. Here are some examples from Book 1 of the Piro route. This is all canon stuff, so not really spoilers if you’ve read the comic.

Here is Largo taking on Junpei in MORTAL KOMBAT for the right to enter Japan. Notice the movement directions in the first panel, and the third panel being a CG event. Largo’s kung fu is best.


Here is the scene where Yuki still has Piro’s bookbag and unexpectedly finds him behind the counter at Megagamers. Because this is the Piro route we’re seeing this all happen from Piro’s perspective, which is quite different from the original comic. I think the first-person view might even work better in this case. Yuki’s panic is adorable, even in sketchy form.


Also adorable even in sketchy form are some of the other happenings. Here are Megumi at Anna Miller’s, Largo with his Cool Thing, and Ping left behind in the apartment when Tsubasa heads for America.


In addition to the CG events, there will be animation in spots. Here’s an action scene at Anna Miller’s. Coffee Pot INCOMING! The CG event of Kimiko franticly apologizing afterwards looks like it’ll be really cute.


Of course the one huge thing we don’t see in all of this is Piro himself, since the Piro route is all from his viewpoint. Fred normally does a great job with show-don’t-tell in the comic. But when we can’t see one major character who is there for every scene, that can be hard to do. Sometimes a bit of inner monologue is the answer, like here after Piro pulls his tail too hard and rips a hole in his pants while talking to Kimiko at Megagamers.


Live Draw Note: Fred has been bouncing back and forth between Ustream and YouTube lately for his live draws. Make an account, or keep an eye in his facebook or twitter to know when he goes live, then join us for the fun.

Slow Animation

If you have played visual novels before, one thing you might have noticed about the MT demo that Fred posted a month ago was how often the character drawings changed, especially in the scene with Largo and Dom.

LargoPosesTo cover just the first day, Fred drew 95 different character images. Some were just minor changes to the mouth, but some were major expression or pose changes. It was almost a kind of slow animation. Most visual novels use fewer character images, and for good reason.


All those extra drawings don’t cost Fred money, but they do cost him time. On top of actually making the drawings, it means more writing to decide what character images are needed when, better organization to keep them all straight, and more scripting in ren’py to program them in. This is one of the reasons the MT visual novel is going to take a while yet.

But that extra work will be worth it. The drawings in the Megatokyo aren’t just there to accompany the words, like pictures in a novel. And unlike some other comics, MT isn’t just a series of talking heads.

The art in Megatokyo tells as much of the story as the dialogue does; sometimes more. Often the art tells a very different story than the words, which is part of what makes MT so complex and multi-layered.


Doing all this work to make the visual novel really feel like Megatokyo is part of what Fred means when he says he’s determined to do this right.

He is going to reuse and repurpose drawings where he can, so it’s not like everything has to be drawn from scratch. That will become easier to do with later parts of the story where characters stay dressed the same over more comics. But there are still an awful lot of drawings and work to be done.

PS: Don’t forget, we are now one month before the release of the Megatokyo Omnibus of books 1-3. You can preorder at many places where books are sold.

Live Draw Music

If you were tuning in for Fred’s live draws of the last comic, you might have noticed that he is no longer playing music in the background.

Since the move from, Fred had been careful to play only creative commons music and other stuff like ocremix where he had received direct permission. But youtube’s copyright bots misidentified two of the songs he played and flagged them anyway. They also flagged the sound of his printer in the background as a copyrighted song, and flagged a non-MT video of his son’s class singing Jingle Bells. Here are some screenshots:

Youtube handles this better than does, with communication and a dispute mechanism. But Fred is understandably sick and tired of it all. The drawing is more important.

So join us for the live draws to see the comic and visual novel in progress. It’s still a lot of fun. Just bring along your own music.

Live Draw Moves

Fred had been streaming the live draw for both the comic and visual novel artwork on But then Zen_Misanthrope’s live draw was DMCA’d, and Fred was unhappy with the way handled it from a customer service standpoint.

Fred has since moved his live draw to Ustream and YouTube. They each have their plusses and minuses. Ustream is a little easier to use and has a better IRC-based chat. But the ads are annoying and it doesn’t save the streams for later replay; unless he upgrades to Pro, which is more money than it’s worth. YouTube is quirkier for him to use and the chat isn’t as nice, but it saves streams for later replay and the ads are more controllable and less of a problem. He is still making up his mind which to make his permanent home.

If you make an account on Ustream or have a google account for YouTube, you can subscribe to Fred’s channel and click the box get an email whenever he goes live. Or if you follow him on facebook or twitter, he often will post an announcement there before he starts a live draw.

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

An update on stuff and surveys going out real soon :)

(cross-posted from the Kickstarter updates page 🙂

Hi Everyone,

Obviously, it’s February here and the game is by no means done… in defense i have to point out that even doing the basic one-character-path game that originally posted this Kickstarter with would have been hard to have it ready by February – this bigger game has been far more complicated to write and put together than i imagined, but um, i guess we all know that.  ^^;;  Also, to be honest, my original concept of the in-game choices and the scope of actual branching in the game would be fairly simple and not too complicated… unfortunately, i have burdened myself with far more branching and complexity to the game than i probably should have.   As this all starts to form up slowly, i will be able to make choices i think that will slim things down a bit – this is not a bad thing, there are some branches and directions i have mapped out here that are not as strong as others, so trimming so i can focus on filling out the more interesting branches better.  I’m also probably being a little too gregarious with the artwork – visual novels tend to do a lot of art re-use, and coming from a comicking background where i am always drawing new panels… this sort of generic re-use is a foreign concept for me and i admit that i have not be applying it as vigorously as i should.

Is all this bad?  For getting the game done quickly, it’s horrible.  Will it make the game better?  Oh yes.  I actually am really happy with the general feel of how the game is coming together.  (I posted a rough sample of Piro’s route through the flight to japan on youtube that you gives a sense of what it is feeling like so far:

Still a fsk load of work to do, yes.  Making the transition from doing comics to doing a visual novel is actually not as straight forward as you might think.  Even with the existence of a robust platform like Renpy (which has been working out really well for this, i must say) i had to develop my own system, a kind of shorthand with attributes that i could globally work with as i grind out the scripts.  In a comic, you do drawings to show what is happening, to describe the scene, to show a characters expressions (Example: (drawing of Largo vomiting rainbows) largo: “woah! l33t sp33wage!”).  In prose you use words to describe these things (Largo walked in the room and started vomiting rainbows.  “woah! l33t sp33wage!” he said, wiping his mouth.).  With a visual novel, you have to use a kind of short hand – and if you are trying to do this in a detailed way, the attributes for describing the images called will either make or break how your VN comes together.  For example, for that scene, the way i would write it is:

show largo hunchedover tR 3v1l33t hR vomitingrainbows eR m0

largo “woah! l33t sp33wage!”

I could even make a call for sound effects (not something you should overdo) buy adding “play sound “assets/sounds/vomitingrainbows.mp3”) but i digress.  When you do comics, you sketch what you are trying to do and add dialogue.  trying to work with this sort of abstraction of shorthand, planning things out so i can pull sketches together right (largo_hunchedover_tR_3v1l33t_hR_vomitingrainbows_eR_m0.png would probably be a rather unique drawing, not just a simple variant with a subltely changed expression) but getting to this point was a major challenge for me – one that has been frought with having to live with whatever system i developed over the course of a VERY large game.

I’ve reworked this system a dozen times or more, each time havent to go back and gut what i had done and rework things to work with the revised system.  Painful as this was, learning by doing has its benefits – my scripting shorthand here is, i think, more than robust enough to get me through this game, and its been working well for me for the past month or so, which has been a HUGE relief.  Nothing makes you more jittery as you move forward on something than the dawning realization you have to go back and do everything over.  Again.

Oh, one other thing i sorta didn’t realize when i took this project on – all of the dialogue for the canon routes exists and was just a matter of transposing things over to a VN format.  Obviously things change because the format is different but what i really didn’t consider is the amount of aditional writing it would entail: inner monologue.  Comics don’t generally show what a character is thinking in words – more by expression than words.  A VN is different – you can’t see your own face, so i am finding that i have to communicate this side of things with a lot more additional writing than i thought i would.  Keeping it balanced is not easy, but i feel like I have a good handle on it.

I’m sorry if that sounded a bit rambling, but it’s a good reflection of where things are at.  Those of you who are in the Beta Testing pool it will still be a bit before i open the first chunk for you guys to look at, but it’s coming, and i thank you for your patience.

One thing i’d like to do is start providing more regular updates on the project.  I’ve asked a friend of mine, Rob Miller, to help by making some regular updates to since I have this bad habit of just wanting to work on things and i’m terrible at making rants and blog entries (other than twitter, i can manage those).

Another thing i’ll be doing is sending out surveys over the next few days to collect information for shipping and other stuff (in particular, if you have ala cart items in your KS pledge).  I’m going to work on seeing if i can start sending out some of the extras in the next month or so ahead of the game being finished, since there is no real reason to hold off on that.  More on this over the next week or so as i figure out how to handle that.  Also, i really need to get some info from you guys with NPC insertion stuff – i have places to work that in now, so it’s time to get that info from you guys. 🙂

So, rambling, but i think that covers a lot of things.  I’m happy with where this is going, I just wish i could pull things together faster.  I apologize for that, but please know i’m doing my best to get this thing together.  Thank you very much for your support, this is an awesome project to be working on, and ugh, i have so much respect for anyone who puts one of these things together… ^^;;