Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Developer's Diaries Episode 15

Aura is back writing Developer's Diaries, and he's come up with this:

Where are we going? Writers are soonish reaching the ends of the first parts of their paths (actually crud, being by far the most productive writer, already did). Delta finished the first alpha of the demo for internal playtesting, but as everyone is either busy with their actual assignment or lazy, extensive testing and polishing has to wait a bit. Other things are coming along as well.

Progress is the key thing to any project, it's actually the reason I write these blog posts, to keep record of our progress. Of particular interest to me is the progress of writing, not from the perspective of word counts or scene numbers, but the plot. It is important that the stories we are telling work, are paced well and make sense. I have noticed that it's pretty hard to keep a long story under control, even though I am not even halfway through mine.

All writers have gotten a bit of flak about progressing the plot (and with it, the relationship of the main pair) too slowly, and I do admit, we are a bit slice-of-lifey most of the time (I was inspired to write this post by the scene I am working on, codenamed R12. It does absolutely nothing to progress my path, and I hate it for that because i have been already brainwashed to think that slice-of-life is bad). I am not sure why this is a bad thing though, nor i do understand the reasons for all writers acting the same. Of course, in our case there are a few other things that naturally slow down the plot progress, notably the fact that Hisao knows none of the other characters before the game starts. This basically forced us to spend some time to estabilish the characters not only to the player, but also to the main character. But still, is it because all five of us have been infused by the western culture environment, so a certain kind of image of a relationship has been imprinted in our brains? Thus, some staples of our genre (incredibly quickly progressing romance, sex on the first date, sex before the first date etc) could be subconsciously impossible to write because they sound ridiculous and implausible, perhaps?

It turns out that KS, despite its outrageous premise of a special highschool for disabled children ranging from mental patients and burn victims to paraplegics and double amputees, tells stories that are not outrageous at all, most of the time. Instead, the flow of life is very mundane all around, following the slow cycles of a school year just like in any other school, with the neverending days seemingly similar to each other ultimately leading to something I hope is five stories worth telling.

Then crud added:

One thing that I should point out, that I've noticed from a few of my projects, is that whilst it seems like it's taking forever to achieve anthing, it 's usually pretty quick.

I know that I have reached a "critical point" in my path, and I know that others will be approaching the same point rather soon.
It seems like it's taken forever to get here.

But, in the timeline of the game, it's a little less than a month.
Additionally, it would probably only take a solid hour's worth of reading to get to where I am....

So basically... cheer up, writing team! It's not that bad! We're just slow!

...maybe just ignore that last point...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Developer's Diaries 14 : Electric Boogaloo

It's been a while since the last 'official' DD. But what's happened apart from the large influx of preliminary art? A few things. Firstly, we've got a new background artist, Climatic (if you'd like to give him a hand, give us a shout). Also, we've gone over the 150k words mark, and we're still going on strong. As we are right now, we have finished Act 1 of the game, and we're just awaiting the art. Our character artist is working diligently and silently to fix this. As is our new background artist. The last piece of Act 1 was in my opinion, the best ever written BAD END in VN history. It is about 2k words, and is full of awesomeness. Also, Kenji's ravings in this BAD END makes him probably one of the most interesting male VN side characters.

Now to the other part of the DD. Take a look at these statistics of 2000 machine-run paths through the game.

Looking at this, you may be thinking "HEY, THIS GAME LOOKS TOO DAMN HARD". Actually, this is done by machine so it's just making random choices so I wouldn't be surprised that there would be so many BAD ENDs. This game is set up such that if you keep hitting the right "buttons" for one character, then you should be able to get on that character's path. If you stray too far towards other characters, you'll get the BAD END. We've done this because the original image said that gigolo play is not allowed.

One more thing, if you're interested in making fanart for the game, it might actually make it into the game in the form of extras, act headers, etc. Go to the forums to post your fanart!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Our artist, silenkyon was pretty silent for a while until yesterday when he showed up with 80 sketches to show. Here are some of them.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Katawa Shoujo needs your help! We need background artists!

As some may already know, we've been using filtered photographs as our backgrounds. The thing is that they aren't ours, and are merely temp backgrounds. I personally don't like using our own original filtered photos as we would have minimal control over the scenery and would be as passive as... well, photography. Also, we'd have *gasp* 3D people walking around all over the place! But I digress.

We need a background artist of any kind. As long as you can make decent quality work who can do good architectural sketches fairly quickly. Even as long as you can make good landscape/scenery sketches, please apply in the boards (in the link to the right frame).


Friday, January 4, 2008

One Year Anniversary

Yet, there is something unstoppable behind this project now. We have a fairly solid team, and every day there is some contribution to the project. I take great pride in seeing new posts on the forums, or seeing people discuss the characters as if they were from any other VN or anime series.To the public, it may seem that we are a dead group. We haven’t released anything in quite some time, but that is by design. You can put the blame for that solely on myself.

It’s almost three am, and my laptop is starting to burn my legs.

Just what the hell am I doing?

Oh yeah, that’s right. I’m writing for a VN.

I flick across to the VN’s staff, and then public IRC channels.

[2:44am] <@Losstarot> Happy anniversary!

[2:44am] <~cpl_crud> you're shitting me

And this is how we celebrated the anniversary of our VN, Katawa Shoujo.

It’s now been one full year since that fateful sticky on /a/. A sticky that lasted almost a week, and attracted as much attention as a strobe light in an epileptic ward.

No, I don’t get that last comparison either.

The game then spent about three months gestating on a free invision forum, fuelled by the ideas and aspirations of /a/. Names, backgrounds and personalities were discussed, voted upon, challenged, and discussed again. The setting of the game changed every minute or so, and vast rifts broke out amongst the supporters.

Whilst some progress was made, the numbers slowly dwindled, and it was quite obvious to all that the project was, for all intents and purposes, dead.

It became apparent that the current way of doing things wasn’t working. In an extreme act of self-sacrifice, the “core team” (as it was known then) committed suicide, and left TcDohl and myself in charge.

We have seen very little of them since.

The “new” forums brought with them new hope. There was a plan, there were motivated people, and there weren’t any spambots.

Still, progress was slow. People disappeared. The motivation to actually do something didn’t really translate into action. But, like a freight train, the project started to gather momentum, and has been rolling on ever since.

That isn’t to say that we haven’t hit a few bumps on the way. We’ve lost a number of artists and writers, but each and every time, we’ve powered on.

There’s been internal fights. We’ve had to sack people. People have stepped down from their positions or been hit by trucks.

I think we have accomplished something good.

As of the last report, the game stands at a little over 130,000 words of gameplay, and most of the paths are only about a third of the way through their scenarios, if that. I’m not sure of the actual record, but I do believe that we are rapidly approaching the title of “largest OELVN ever.”

For a project that the vast majority of people think is finished, I think that’s pretty impressive.

Anyway, this is valuable writing time that I’m wasting here, and I know that my editor, Losstarot, eagerly awaits something else of mine to polish from turd to gold.

So, to all of the staff of the project; those that have put up with me any my absenteeism, moodiness and “out of left field” calls, you have my heartfelt thanks. Looking at the internal alphas gives me this strange rush of blood. Not an erection. I thought I should clear that up.

To all of the fans, thanks for your patience. I know that I’ve kept you all in the dark since that original Act 1 demo release, but please, realise that this is so we can make you the best game possible.

We’re still picking up speed. We’re still hitting bumps. But, even if I have to learn to draw and code and play music and edit myself, I’m not going to stop until we finish this damned thing.

Unless, of course, I get hit by a truck.

Happy anniversary!

Cam "Cpl Crud" O'Neill


4LS Katawa Shoujo Project

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Scene Summaries

I'm surprised it already has been two months since I joined Katawa Shoujo as an editor. I somehow missed the sticky one year ago, but I followed the project in passing, interested in what was eventually to see the light of day. Since then, I have been through Act 1 as it was being rewritten by Aura, along with Losstarot and our head editor, Sessha, who should be putting the finishing touches on Saturday's script very soon.

But after going through the trouble to make a blog post just for that, I may as well reveal a feature: Scene Summaries!

But what's this? There's a description of the scene at the bottom of the screen! Have I been making these as well as editing?

You still have to unlock the scenes in the main game, though...

These may not be much, but I'm happy with them.