Author Archives: piro

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… ^^;;


structure from the slog

(this actually started as a quick forum response to a question about any updates about what is going on with MTVN development.  After i was done with it, i realized i should just post that here :P)

I’ve pretty much been working full-time immersion on writing and dev and figuring out basically the whole damn game (i thought there might be more organized, less painful ways to do it, but i was wrong, i’m doing it all at once).   That’s actually a pretty calm answer because i’m very much on the side of ‘things are coming together’ rather than… well, maybe im just used to feeling completely overwhelmed by the task here.   Been sticking at it tho, my usual ‘brute force’ method of making things move forward.

Just for fun, here’s a mostly harmless screenshot of some of the structure coming together:

script grinding

The flowchart on the left is really just the canonical structure (piro’s route) without any branching.  All the branching and the scribbles and the impossible to decipher structure that is turning into the game itself is all scribbles on paper – the flowchart itself prints out to 11 pages (portrait) of 11×17 paper, and all of my branching, looping and hidden emotional statistic manipulation stuffs is scribbled unreadability across those 11 pages.  It really did take a while to figure out exactly how to path and structure things – god i hope this works.  If it doesn’t, you people are all gonna lynch me ^^;;

A big decision on my part was in what ways i was going to diverge and path from the main canon story.  the simplest way would have been to have a decision happen and then WOOP you are on another story path, completely independent and totally new.  A lot of work (and not necessarily lots of good new story) and honestly not very realistic – truth is, decisions we make in life often may veer us away drastically (like taking a new job in another state or not) other times they are small things (going to Wendys rather than McDonalds).  generally the rest of your day might turn out pretty much the same.  For example, in the sample game we did, piro chose if he should talk to kimiko or not.  No matter what his choice was, largo still barged in and started talking to kimiko, and erika will still drag them off to the beergarden – some things at the beergarden might be different, of course, but the loops just lead to sublte things that might have other implications down the road…

if this sounds complicated, it is, but i feel it’s leading to far more curious directions for things, how a small thing here or a big thing there might lead to a different kind of character development later on and different directions.

I’m sorry if all of this has been really boring and you’ve been wondering about all the crickets for the past month, but there just hasn’t really been a lot to share about this side of things (except to complain loudly and whine that i’m fucking things up and this is just a massive clusterfuck and waaaah).  There are SO many ways to approach a lot of this, but i feel comfortable now, finally, that the way this is coming together feels right.  Comics are like that for me too – i can plan till i turn blue in the face, its not until you start chunking things together that i find out what works and what doesn’t.  Frankly, i’m behind on working on character drawings for all this – but i should be starting that up fairly soon, and i’ll be doing a lot of that live.  I want both writing and art production to start moving along together, but i just didnt feel comfortable with doing that till i really felt i had the story structures falling into place.  This is by no means done, but the foundations and some of the stickwork is there now, slowly being deciphered into actual scripting (note that i’m using Scrivener with Textexpander here to organize things – it gives me a lot of flexibility in compiling output – basically i get almost usable renpy code from an export (that took a while to set up).  Flowcharting i am doing in yEd and i’m managing my art resources via Omni Outliner.  Whee.

Sorry if that is kinda rambling and mangled insofar as an update, but it is actually really appropriate given the nature of how i write and organize and develop stuff… kinda like this. I’m at a point now where i can actually start talking more about stuff like this since i really DO have a solid sense of how this is coming together now as well as how i got here.  I mean, i’m starting to really want to share some of the pain here, yknow? 🙂

Flowcharting brain burnout and canon paths

If you are wondering what has been up with the MT Visual Novel project for the past few days, lots of this stuff:

Just one of many storypath flowcharts I'm working on.

Just one of many storypath flowcharts I’m working on.

It’s actually kind of interesting (as i already figured it would be) to follow one character’s POV and see things like Piro has NO clue that either of these girls have paid any attention to him at all nevermind done a little obsessing.  Also, its fun that Piro pretty much ignores most of what Largo says.

Anyways, i’ve been immersed in this for the past few days and i need to come up for air soon and do some other stuff (like the next comic and do some updates here and on the KS page and stuff).  The canon run-through structurings i’m working on how are sort of hard to quantify as in how much more there is to do.   One aspect of doing canon paths is that it DOES generate and start to give a sense of structure for the alternate paths, including some possible ones i hadn’t considered before.  Anyways, not the most satisfying update, i know, but i thought id at least give you a small window into this important but not much to show part of the project.

Welcome to the Megatokyo Visual Novel Development site!

Welcome to the official Megatokyo Visual Novel Game website!   Now that the game has been successfully funded (just a little), we figured that there should be a place where you can tell relate whats up and how things are going, and this is it.

I know things have seemed a little quiet since the Kickstarter ended on Thursday, but most of that has been transitioning into production mode and getting resources like this website pulled together.  I will post updates here regularly about progress and there is a forum that you are welcome to participate in.

More to come, obviously, but this will do for now.  A huge thank you to all of you who backed the Megatokyo Visual Novel Game Kickstarter.  Now for the fun part – making the game.