We have made some good progress in the last couple of weeks on the Visual Novel.
Fred put together thumbnail storyboards for chapters 2 and 3 of the Piro canon route, and I cranked out the corresponding initial ren’py scripts. That takes the raw game for the Piro canon route up through the Kimi-zilla bar scene.
One of the really interesting things about running through the game so far is that you only see what Piro sees. It makes Miho’s comments on the porch when picking up Ping for school seem all the more disconcerting, and it makes Kimiko’s treatment of Piro at the bar feel so much more harsh and heartbreaking. When we read the comic, we see how Kimiko felt about the guy who gave her the railcard beforehand, and we soon see how much she regrets her behavior the next morning. But playing Piro in the game, you don’t get that. The impact is rather raw and powerful.
Shad0w has been working on a project to link flowcharts with the various jumps and labels in ren’py, to try to keep better track of the story branches. That will come in handy once we move beyond the canon routes.
I mentioned last time that Shad0w had written scripts to generate temporary character images as placeholders until Fred can do the real artwork. That was working well for me with script debugging. But as Fred started working with them, he found it difficult to interpret the filename formats that he had come up with himself. “hLP” might mean “head left profile”, but his brain kept seeing “help” and he had to stop and think about it. That slowed things down. So Shad0w added a more verbose description on top of the character images, which was a nice improvement. Here’s an example of Erika and Largo from the bar scene.
For the game so far, basically the Piro canon route up through the end of book 2, I count about 1000 separate character images and 100 background images. That’s a lot of drawing for Fred, and there’s a much more game to go. This is one of the reasons Fred put so much effort into good image filename and photoshop layer schemes for the drawings. That should let him make these drawings with a lot less work by reusing parts of other images in an organized fashion — doing a lot of modifying, rather than having to draw each one from scratch. I’m sure he’ll be refining that process more as he works with it.
Fred’s Cintiq has been away for repairs for the last week or so, and that has slowed him down a little, both with the comic and the visual novel. But he has redone the Mortal Kombat immigration scene (your Kung Fu is best), and is working on the train travel scenes to and from Narita airport.
So we’re making good progress, I think. Fred will be happy when he gets his Cintiq back, and that should help the art come quicker as well. There is still a long way to go, but it feels like we’re getting there.