Saturday, January 1, 2011

State of the Shoujo, 2011

Greetings to one and all, and happy new year from everyone at Four Leaf Studios.

Well, it's a new year. I liked the sound of "twenty-ten" better, but maybe "twenty-eleven" will grow on me as the year progresses. And progress it will, just as the game has been. It would be nice to say the year was rosy and friendly and we all got along and hummed lighthearted tunes while happily working away on KS... but I don't think any staff member could say that with a straight face. But despite the fights, the bitching, and the tantrums, we've managed to stick together and make steady progress.

As far as notable events during 2010 go, we've lost developers, regained developers, were extremely lucky to meet a certain person who's been working with us on some special surprises for the game, and Crud and I did a KS convention panel (which some reading this may have even attended). Things have happened in every developer's life outide of KS, some good, some bad, but KS itself has more or less kept trundling along with more writing, more art, more music, more editing and more direction being done nearly every day.

But all that pales in comparison to what this new year will bring, if only for one reason:

Ten years ago, almost to the day, Schuppen Harnische was released by RAITA at Comiket 59 on the 30th of December, 2000.

Four years ago, in January 2007, a post was stickied on 4chan's /a/ imageboard with the idea of making a game out of the concept on one of its omake pages.

Six months hence, in June 2007, Four Leaf Studios first arose as a named entity and work on the game began in earnest.

Almost two years ago, in April 2009, the Act 1 preview was released.

And within months from today, after four years in development, Katawa Shoujo will be released.

It feels somewhat strange to think about the game being released, from a personal perspective. It's been a part of my life for such a long period, it's certainly something I will never forget, and I would imagine that much the same is true of most of the other developers. Nor will I ever forget some of those who I've worked with closely during its development. Time marches on though; word by word, line by line, and argument by argument, the game is progressing towards its final state and the eventual release.

We've have a lot of progress status requests over the past year (and the year before that, and the year before that), and unfortunately, we've had to knock them back for quite a number of reasons. For those that asked reasonably, we did at least try to state why. With the new year though, it feels pertinent to give a good rundown of where the project is to the best of our ability. As such, here is a more detailed status update than the usual, including direction status. This is included because it's the best indicator of "final" portions of the game; that is, a directed act will be subject to no further changes. It's because of this that direction only takes place after all writing for an act has been completed (first draft -> second draft -> editing by editors -> direction).

Emi path:
Writing: Path script is finalised.
Direction: Path direction is completed.

Lilly path:
Writing: Path script is finalised.
Direction: Act 3 out of 4 complete.

Hanako path:
Writing: Path script second draft finished, Act 4 in editing.
Direction: Act 2 out of 4 complete.

Rin path:
Writing: Act 4 second draft in progress.
Direction: Act 3 out of 4 complete.

Shizune path:
Writing: Act 4 second draft in progress, Act 3 in editing.
Direction: Act 2 out of 4 complete.

Direction of Act 1 and Act 2 is complete, and Act 3 is most of the way towards completion as well. Emi path is now finalised as far as script and direction goes, aside from small-scale edits and direction tweaks to account for specifics of the art assets as they're done. The current hope is that with the game assets being in the position that they are, direction should hopefully be able to continue without stopping and waiting for acts to be written and/or edited. Art is, as usual, largely under wraps as far as progress goes. All sprites are complete for every character (barring the odd expression or two that's sometimes needed during direction), so the artists are working on completing the remaining CGs and cutins. On the CG side, there are very few CGs that require drawing from scratch, with most of those remaining requiring colouring before completion.

So that's where the project currently stands. The coming months are going to be a busy time in preparation for release, but rest assured that Katawa Shoujo will be released in 2011.

To celebrate the new year, here is a picture from Weee. We at Four Leaf Studios wish to thank everyone who's remained patient throughout the game's development, and hope that everyone will have a safe and happy year ahead.

- Suriko

» Discuss this post on the forums