Tuesday, December 30, 2008


In response to several requests for KS banners to put on websites, we've made these:

Small 88x31

Medium 200x40

Regular 468x60

Please use them however you wish.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Voice Acting and Katawa Shoujo

The question of voice acting with regards to Katawa Shoujo comes up every now and again, so the decision to not have voice acting in the game bears some explanation.

Many of the decisions taken during the development of the game can be ascribed to lack of forethought and planning, staff coming and going, and the script having been worked on during much of the time all other areas were stalled. This has led to multiple problems, not the least of which has been a huge backlog for any artist joining the team, as well as offers having to be refused for various things to be included in the game. One of those is voice acting.

Time limits, with us wanting to have release dictated by when the art is done instead of adding yet another delay is probably the largest of the problems that voice acting faces. There is also the need to find a good voice actor for each and every character, and any written dialogue that's been recorded having to go unchanged and therefore not allowing for dialogue edits during post-production, editor sweeps, and alpha/beta tester feedback.

Finally, for a project the size of KS, the logistics of voice acting just become too much to work with. With the cast having grown considerably from the five heroines and protagonist that were started with, communication with the voice actors for each and every character becomes extremely difficult - a problem that timezones would also exacerbate.

For a smaller project, or one that is better planned, voice acting may well be a possibility. But for Katawa Shoujo, the decision has been made that it simply isn't.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Please have a very merry Christmas, from everyone on the Katawa Shoujo developer team.

Thursday, December 18, 2008



English: This is basically just a restatement of the fact that the game will be released for free, as some in the Japanese community had expected Katawa Shoujo to cost money - a normal practice for doujin games.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The State of Play, Christmas Edition

Hello everyone. It's been a long time since the last blog update, and a fair amount of things have been happening, so it's time for yet another update.

Post-production is trundling along on all paths, with a particular focus on preparation of the demo. As we come to the final stages of development on it, alpha testing will begin with a demo release coming afterwards. The post-production phase has so far shown one of the greatest problems, but also one of the greatest strengths, of the development process of KS - that being the almost anarchic organisation structure. While small bursts of democracy, mob rule and dictatorship come and go, people largely do what they wish to via both negotiation and merit. At times this means he who has the largest mouth is most powerful, and at others it means very loose control over developers, but in the end it's fostered a friendship that's held the project together through many tough times.

The first finished CGs are starting to roll off the art-line now, with heroine sprites on the edge of completion. Thanks to everyone's hard work we've found, and finished altering, all the background shots required for the game. It was a long process given the number of backgrounds that had accumulated over the process of scriptwriting, but it's finally done. Thank you to all involved on that front, especially Yujovi for getting us a huge majority of the photos, and Delta for his image altering, with organisation and management of the process from Suriko.

On the staff front, we've welcomed Raide to the project as another artist, who will be working on both sprites and CGs. Being Indonesian, he joins our ranks as a developer of yet another nationality amongst a Finn, a German and an Italian, in addition to a handful of both Australians and Americans. Some of his fanart from before joining the project can be found on the forums, in the oekaki section.

Below is an updated heroine shot, showing the new Lilly art and another background, the exterior of the school dormitories.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Name of the Game (Japanese version)

Below is basically a Japanese version of the post before it, about the title of the game, where it came from, and why we aren't going to change it.



この名前はRaitaさんが書いった絵からなりました。このゲームの始めた時から、私達がこのゲームに「かたわ少女」を呼ばせている。( Raitaさんの絵 - http://www.katawa-shoujo.com/res/source.jpg )






Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Name of the Game

KS pulsed through the web in the past week, and most interestingly the Japanese blogosphere and messageboards. As expected, the name of the project sparked controversy, but in an even larger proportion than what I thought it would. To explain what's all this about, the word "katawa" is quite degoratory in Japanese, perhaps comparable to English racial slurs like chink, spic and so on. As you can guess, if we were making a heart-warming visual novel about the hard life of jewish school kids in the WW2 Germany and name it "Kike Girls", it might raise a few eyebrows. Maybe a reasonable translation of Katawa Shoujo would be "Retard Girls", which is equally offensive though not exactly accurate. Anyway, it's a really really bad idea to name the game that, so why? Why?

It's not like we intentionally want to offend, and we did not come up with the name ourselves. The origin of the name is of course Japan itself, with Raita and his original concept picture of KS. Due to the name being readily available from the picture and the general idea of staying as true to it as possible, the name was adopted to the project without a second thought (and I don't think anyone with enough finesse in Japanese was around at the time to point out the problem with the name). Raita is not to blame though, he can name his doujin extras whatever he wants, the reason or blame is in the strange circumstances of the conception of this game.

So why not change the name? We have thought about changing the name for this very reason before (and also because an English game having a Japanese name felt odd to some), but gave up on it because it would be patently stupid. Due to our relatively high profile the project would just end up as "the game formerly known as Katawa Shoujo" and it would change absolutely nothing. So we kept the name, and we probably will even in the future.

Plus, the ideas we came up with for the name were even worse. No really.

Friday, November 14, 2008

This is not our opening.

Been playing Act Cadenza again lately, which reminded me of an old joke we had going about a Melty Blood-style fighting game spinoff called "crippled/heart".

*High quality highly advisable
*If you need a hint

If we ever get Katawa Shoujo done, I suggest that Japan return the favor by making this.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Katawa-shoujo.com launched!

As our newest measure to somehow centralize the information around this project, we have now launched the website for Katawa Shoujo. The website features character introductions and sneak peeks at some of the game features, with more content being added in the future.

Big thanks to delta for his work on the site, and to A22 for his perseverance in studying the Japanese blood type-personality superstition system.

Group Shot

Major update coming very soon. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Katawa Shounen

New fanart from the talented Climatic.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"A large part of writing is about striking a balance between your personal ambitions as a writer, and the responsibilities you undertake when you choose to pursue becoming a storyteller."

"Cater too much to the audience, and you're pandering. Likewise, if you start thinking that you can disregard their opinions and chase only what you want out of your writing,"

"Then it's just a wank."

The Answer is a short visual novel about making a visual novel about making a visual novel about making bad visual novels and about writing a visual novel.

If you so choose, download The Answer from The Answer Homepage and prepare to not get enlightened.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lilly Satou

Lilly Satou.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Developer Diaries, episode 26

<Aura-> argh, I wish I could experience playing KS

I said that a few days ago, meaning maybe two different things. We have a few artists who adamantly refuse to read the script because they want to experience the full game unspoiled. Obviously I won't be able to do that, ever. It's not that bad that I won't get to experience the first time of reading this game, but being able to do that would help making KS better.

It's because I work with the script and only the script, but KS is other things too even though that's easy to forget at a time like this. The text is now at a turning point, we should now weed out all the problems, all the faults in the script. It's so easy to get caught up in details. Reading thousands of words, re-reading them, re-re-reading them, analyzing, analyzing, analyzing. Structures, thematic elements, plot arcs, subplots, character developement, pacing, dialogue rhythm, flowcharts, exposition, expression, narrative style, branching, fluff, filler, transitions, deconstruction, discussions, despair. Demons everywhere, outright paranoia in the back of our heads.

Then I start up the latest development build of KS to play it in engine, for the first time in a while. Instead of the bleak script editor, I get the game UI, the vibrant colours of the art, sprites with their expressions mirroring the dialogue, background music, effects and all that jazz. The game really comes to life. My script problems fade away a little, and I think that I'm having kinda fun, experiencing something we did.

Today's sketch is by ambi07

Monday, September 22, 2008

Developer Diaries, episode 25

Milestones mark blog posts and vice versa. Us writers completed the first draft of the game script, clocking it at just under 470 000 words. This means that lately we have had time for feedback, self-reflection, in-depth analysis, consequential writer emo and eventual wishes to scrap half of it and write it again. Anyway, from now on we first fix the stories so that we have a complete story we are happy with and then we fix the language so that it's proper English and technically as sound text as we can do. Then we are done. I've started on my bit and found it immensely hard. The big problems are easy to see and weed out, just scrap the faulty scenes and write something new, but when something only *feels* wrong and I don't know how to fix it, it just stumps me completely. Similarly, when parts of the script feel like they would need *something* more, coming up with that magic ingredient is hard, sometimes even clearly seeing where the faults lie is hard. In the end, this reworking of the script seems to be all about coming up with something I have already said, just in a better or more elegant way.

Writers demolishing their text with chainsaws and axes make the bystanders sick with despair of course. I argued quite heatedly with delta about when I'm happy with the script (it was more about a demo in fact(oh shit the D word)). I don't know really, KS is so gigantic that grasping the script as a whole might not even be possible for me, and thus the question can't even be answered. I guess best answer is "when I'm not unhappy with any part of the script". This, I feel, is a reachable goal because I can easily name the things I'm unhappy with (and I have) and we have discussed about how to fix them or should we even bother.

As a followup on the previous post, chendo of Mirror Moon introduced us to Redmine, a really promising project management application. Apart from the somewhat heavy upkeep it needs and the despair the constantly growing ToDo and Issue lists cause, it's really awesome.

moekki drew me a picture to go with the blog post because DD's are otherwise so boring. Here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Developer Diaries, episode 24

We value communication. A lot, in fact. KS is being done by many people, and due to our working methods (read: we come up with new things as we progress), we need to talk about our ideas and the state of the project often. For that, we have four information channels: developement wiki, forums, a few IRC channels and of course the working copy of Katawa Shoujo through SVN. The first is used for storing permanent information from the colour of Emi's socks to the number of HCGs in Lilly's path, the second is used for showing and analyzing the content of the game itself but the third is the one I like the most.

As odd as it sounds, our IRC channels are by far the most useful and powerful tool we have, and IRC is also the glue that holds the entire KS project together. Most of the everyday project work (aside from the creative things like writing or drawing) is done on IRC. Real-time chat is the place for brainstorming, feedback, analysis, planning and arguments because it's more efficient, flexible and faster than making a forum post, waiting for others reply, posting again and so on, especially since we are spread out across all possible timezones. It's also easier to talk in realtime than write a thought-out and concise forum post, even though the end result can be the same.

Talking also creates some of the all-important coherence that would otherwise be completely lacking in a ragtag bunch of internet strangers that Four Leaf Studios essentially is (apart from the few people who are siblings or know each other IRL otherwise). We get to know each other as a side effect of using real-time chatting to work on the game, and at least for me it improves motivation, helps me to understand the writers (and other people, but the writers are critical to my job) and makes the project more enjoyable than just doing my bit and nothing else from behind my handle.

IRC is not the end-all be-all of course. Discussion gets easily derailed to US politics, Monster Hunter, Japanese politics, Code Geass, Bolivian politics, pumpkin pie or raging about whatever is currently fashionable to hate in the project, and due to timezone differences it's still unoptimal, but it works for us. One of the artists compared the IRC channels to a working studio, and I guess it's the closest thing we have to one.

Hanako Ikezawa

Hanako Ikezawa


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shizune Hakamichi

Shizune Hakamichi.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rin Tezuka

Rin Tezuka.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The State of Play, August Edition

Greetings and salutations, blog-watchers. It's high time for a blog update, so without further ado...

Paths now in post-production, with their first-drafts complete:
- Hanako
- Lilly
- Rin

The remaining paths, Emi's and Shizune's, don't have much farther to go until they hit the same mark as well.

A special thanks goes out to Yujovi, who's come in and blitzed through many of the backgrounds we've been needing, flooding us with great photos. Also, Haru has lent his services to us as an artist for CGs.

Behind the scenes, it's been a bumper month for art all round, with sprites popping up, CGs being lined, and backgrounds flowing in.

Character Spotlight:
Meet the scout runner, Emi Ibarazaki!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Personal Things

Not significant as such...

But I wrote the last word of Rin path today. It's not the final word, mind. When I get back to the working bench, I still have months of script post-production ahead to polish the story into perfection, not to mention I have a big responsibility for every other path as well... Blargh. But it's the last word, and it feels kinda significant to me. A personal milestone. There is a weird sense of accomplishment with it, even though I had to rush to get it done because of an IRL deadline. At the same time, I became aware of the road I have ahead until release, and the path I have walked to get to this point. I think... that just as much as the feeling of words flowing through my fingertips to paper, this feeling is also what it means to be a writer.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just stop using the word "like"

Funny intermission: the full script of KS dumped into Wordle. Open for analysis/interpretation.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

State of the Shoujo

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated"
- Mark Twain

Words to live and (not) die by. With midyear approaching and around 18 months having gone by since the project started, it's time for a status update.

Hanako's path is in post-production. This is a process wherein, after the entire first draft of the path is completed, the path writer and all staff have a look at the script - from the lowest levels of sentence structures and wordings to character roles and overall plot. Large swaths of the paths will be rewritten during this time, with close contact between all staff members as to what should be changed.

Lilly's path is a hair's breath away from having the first-draft complete and going into post-production.

Rin's path is trundling along, and is almost over as far as the first-draft goes.

Shizune and Emi's paths are also moving ahead, with the ends in sight for both.

Overall, the writing's coming to the end of first-draft path creation for all the paths, and into post-production as a whole.

That's coming along quite nicely.

With regards to sprites, Emi's are advancing fastest as far as the main heroines go, with Misha surging ahead in the side-character stakes. The good nurse is entirely done, with all his sprites lined, coloured and inserted, with Muto's sprites not far behind.

Backgrounds are proceeding faster than ever before. Which is to say, they're moving at all. With photos for many of the needed locales found and shopped, they're being inserted as they're done. That isn't to say we have photos for all needed placed, though. Several areas have become a sticking point, with photos for them being badly needed. As such, if you think you have, or can take, photos for these places, please pop on over to the forums and post them. As per the last background call, any submitted photos will need to be in the public domain. The list is as follows:
  • The girl's dormitories (that is, Lilly, Hanako, Shizune, Rin and Emi)
  • The school roof (Western-styled)
  • Inside various types of stores (a convenience store, an antiques store and an art store)
Photos without any people in them would be best, and preferably taken at eye-height. Any submissions are welcome, though.

CGs will begin production when the sprites required for Act 1 are finished, with an eye to finishing a demo for release before organising art assets for the paths proper. Yes, a demo. No, it won't be here tomorrow, nor next week. Yes, we're working on it.

An official website will be going up at an as-of-yet uncertain point in the future, serving as a first point of information about what the game is like.

Let's kill a few of these:
  • Yes, there is sex. In every route. I can't say it much more clearly than that.
  • No, we don't think this is The Best Goddamn Finger-Licking Piece of God-Given Asskicking Awesomeness Ever. We think it might be a good bit of fun to play once it's released. We hope we achieve this goal.
  • No, this project won't self-destruct if an artist leaves (again). We currently have six dedicated artists on the project. Redundancy is a wonderful thing.
  • No, the public forums aren't exactly a masterpiece of well-updated information. The best way to check progress is by joining out IRC channel, #zettai-shoujou on irc.rizon.net.
  • Yes, there is more than consensual sex in the missionary position with the lights turned off in the game. Not to say there isn't a scene like that though. Maybe.
  • Yes, lesbianism is in the game. In a couple of forms. Forms which will not be given in away this blog post.
  • No, this game isn't just about having sex with disabled people. Every character has a plot, with varying amounts of integration between them.
  • No, we don't all hate 4chan. This project was largely born there, and many of our members visit there. We hear your complaints and criticisms, and when we can, work to address them.
To conclude:
Things are moving forwards. Are we ahead of where we were six months ago? Very much so. Every week a scene is posted and/or more art comes in. Despite fitting this project around all our own lives, we've managed to come this far and have no intention of giving up when this project is at it's strongest point. We hope that, despite our problems, the end result will be more than worth the wait. Nobody wants it to be more than we do.

Good night, and good luck.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I might want to. Maybe.

Would you like to be greeted by THIS every time you boot your computer?

Yes, a wallpaper sized Misha vector, staring right at your soul.

It's a bit huge, 2560*1600 but I don't care. Also here is a 4:3 version (1600*1200) for the non-widescreen folks.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sunday, June 1, 2008


The real life Emi (except he is a man, tall and not moe), Oscar Pistorius, got the permission to attend the Beijing Olympic games as an athlete representing South Africa.

All kinds of interesting controversy has floated around the topic of Pistorius' possible attending, mostly the fear that he might actually be superior to the pathetic fleshbags. IAAF initially cockblocked him out by banning "technical aids", which would also mean prosthetic legs. I guess it is a valid worry, prosthetics don't need oxygen to run (no metaboly = no lactic acids slowing you down lol) and their energy return efficiency is significantly greater than that of biological legs. That's not to say that he is faster than completely biological humans (he is not), just that it might be easier for him to run at high speeds because of the advantage the prosthetics give him. In a word, he can run faster than he "should be able to"(what an awful choice of words) and that is be terrible. Well, Pistorius appealed and in the end, IAAF had to permit his attending. He of course still has to actually qualify for the games, but this must be a great victory for him.

It's not hard to predict that not too long into the future, thanks to the advancement of technology, the disabled people actually become more able than the "able-bodied ones". As seen here, IAAF probably won't welcome their new cyborg overlords which means the actual Olympics likely will be closed for the disabled people (damn is this the new racial segregation?). So, will we then be watching the paralympics as the supreme sports event where the sprinters run 100m in less than six seconds or whatever?

In the game too, we deal with the topic of disadvantages being advantages or at least not too limiting factors to the lives of the characters. Emi is incredibly able at the running track, Rin's prodigious flexibility makes her capable of leading a relatively normal life without *constant* help from others and the entire deaf/mute student base of the school is just talking a weird foreign language (which sign language is, even in real life). It's an interesting theme, especially when combined with the premise of the game, the school for the disabled children. To me, a school like Yamaku is an ethically unsolved problem. It's neat to have the kids to be in a school, but sometimes it feels like some kind of an internment camp. We've argued over and over again whether some of our characters (Hanako, Hisao etc) should be at a school like ours, but should a school like that exist in the first place (fictionally or in real life)?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Developer Stream of Consciousness, chapter 23

Fragmented thoughts I have had as of late and related newsish things

Developing a game slowly is preferred here.

Which is why I have at least two dozen ideas for the fabled "next project".

Related to the above- 1984: The Eroge must see the light of the day somehow.

Even more related: a character design for Syme-ko, by moekki iirc:Orwell's rotation speed in his grave would probably be enough to power three medium-sized cities at this point.

If someone lives in a dorm and owns a camera, getting us some pictures of various dorm rooms could be potentially awesome. We need backgrounds. Contact us if you can help.

Addition to above: Also the rooftop of the school would be superb.

We also have yet again broken milestones with word counts, thank god it's over soon.

God damn Emi is tiny. Her ingame sprite looks ridiculously cute because of its miniscule size when compared to everything else show on the screen. She's like some kind of a moe midget.

I hope KS wasn't the first game we'd made. I don't think there is a single thing we have done "right", at least from the get-go... and as a result there are all kinds of suboptimal solutions and funny things.

Still, it seems to work and it's good. So no complaints. And it progresses. Slowly as the steps of Shimako on the ginko-leaf covered walkpaths of Lillian.

Which is what we prefer.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Developer Diaries, chapter 22

After a month of procrastinating because nobody cares (except the guy on /jp/ who sparked me writing this):

All Quiet on the Western Front

Unsurprisingly, nothing particularly special happens progresswise, more words/art come in every week and that's about it. Well, we do have kinda many source photos for the backgrounds now which is very nice, just that some could always be better and obviously the missing ones are harder to get. Directing the game is still behind and stalled for the most part, but it'll get done eventually. The first draft of script is surprisingly close to finished (relatively speaking), after that we just have to race against the artists to see who gets their shit polished and finished first.

On the hilarious sideprojects front however, delta is working on the solution to make translating the game easy and userfriendly, in the hopes of making KS the Asterix of visual novels (guess how many languages/dialects Asterix has been translated to). His aspirations are not completely unbased, as parts of the script have already been translated to Italian.

4LS had its first anniversary a few days ago, marked by the date when crud took over the project leading, even though we didn't start thinking ourselves as a group external to the project until later. Looking back at the past year, it's a god damn miracle this project still exists and is doing so well, so happy birthday 4LS and may the game be out before the next one.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Our group announces a new OELVN (Original English Language Visual Novel) in the works, in collaboration with our Fringe Staff members called "KSS" standing for "Katawa Shoujo Shoujo," a play on the first game we are already working on.
To summarize,
KSS is a visual novel project created from a spontaneous string of events (all of which are very weird in their own way).


The game takes place in Sydney, Australia. A school is founded in the early 1990's with the sole purpose of being multi-cultural. With the current time being early 2005, the school has grown from its humble roots, and has expanded in almost every way. Rather than being students in an exchange student program, people from around the world who truly wish to learn the English language, other cultures and the like go to this school to learn everything they could ever want to learn. The game takes place inside the high school division of the school, focusing on the relationships of the various girls in the story. Yes, girls. Apparently, despite the school not being gender-centric, it has an overflowing amount of female students; due to the various advantages to women the school has to offer. Be advised that even despite the game being lesbian-centric (or yuri, as the Japanese call it), there are indeed normal male-to-female relationships available in this game, despite few. Due to the humongous amount of characters in the main cast, you can enjoy the game and its various stories.


You are introduced to the numerous main cast members
one by one as the story begins. From a Czechoslovakian to a Brazilian, from French to Italian, American to Russian, and so on, you get to choose which girl you want to date from these lovely multi-national girls. The girls' personalities range from hot-cold personalities (or tsundere), warm and sweet personalities, and even stalkers. You also have various bust sizes (though nothing over F cup, for those that hate ridiculously huge breasts), ages and so on to go with the game's theme of "variation".

The game will start with you choosing which branch (out of
three total story branches) that you want to play through. Each branch has its own set of characters, despite everyone being in the same school/location/area. Each branch will also have its own style of gameplay, varying from the standard POV (point of view) to styles never been used much, or even not at all yet. The game will still retain its "choose your adventure" style, like with every visual novel made, to stay true to our roots, and to provide choices for the player in order to get the girl he/she so desires. Due to the immense amount of characters, this was the only way to do so, to make sure that the theme of variation is still contained in the game itself. Think "a Negima visual novel, but without Negi" or something among those lines, and there's your description for the game.


This will probably be the first OELVN to utilize an immense amount of characters and storylines, unless someone is already working on one. With all sorts of craziness being packed into this game, and the humongous amount of work going to be put into it (I pity the artist, unless he gets a lot of help), this will be a game to wait for. And yes, it's a free game.

Sample character art:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Developer Diaries, episode 21

Writers, especially crud, broke the heavens (300 000 word milestone) with their keyboards and there was next to no celebration. Which is why I'm writing this a day too late. Incidentally, the script of Hanako path is now finished as well, so we have at least one story in the bag (save for rewrites, edits, QC and all that sort of thing, which will take ages).

In other news, our artist harem is expanding again with the inclusion of the charming kamifish, and the results are showing. Alpha testing of first "Act" of the script has produced good results and I am hoping to get over that Namek soonish (which will not happen).

As for today's bit of VN design philosophy: the passing of time.

How to portray the passing of time, or explain skipping over an hour, an evening, a day, a week? VNs usually are read from first-person point of view, so timeskips are bound to cause some disjointing in the storytelling. This was a personal hurdle for me, but eventually I settled with just skipping without explanation just like everyone else. Not that the reader "loses" anything if he misses discussion number 9001 with some side character, or the events that have no bearing to the story, but it might make it harder to identify oneself with our protagonist.

Other kinks with time show especially strongly in KS if you compare the first "Act" to the others. Almost half of average playthrough lenght (measured by number of words) is spent during the first week in Yamaku, and the rest varies between 2-4 months of time inside the game world. I wonder if the shift will feel unnatural because the change, in most stories, is rather sudden. We'll see.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sample screenshot

Here's a screenshot of what may or may not be the game:

Monday, March 3, 2008

Developer Diaries, chapter 19 & 20

Aura wrote this DD in the forums recently:
When reading a book, one often imagines what the events of the story would look like, how the characters look like (raise your hand if you were surprised that Legolas had blonde hair in Jackson's movie trilogy) and so on. Visual novels skip a part of that process, and use someone else's imagination instead, leaving your brain only with the task to animate the static pictures shown on the computer screen.

Who is the person whose imagination is used to potray the script? It seems that it often is the writer, not the artist, because of a thing I call here "The Hegemony". The Hegemony is a phenomenon where the writers (or other equivalent) have a judo grip on the visual outlook of a visual novel, essentially having the script rule over the art. In name, visual novel has both aspects on equal standing, unless someone wants to argue the superiority of having one word before (or after) another. In practice however, they are often more like illustrated novels. The visual side is subjugated to only serve as support for the text instead of being a free-standing element. Still, most often the writer has an image of a character, an event, or so in his head and asks the artist to illustrate it. The end result will probably not look exactly like what the writer is thinking, it looks like what the artist is thinking, based on the descriptions he heard, or reading the script. So, will the writer try to bring the text closer to the visualization, or the artist the picture closer to the description? In most cases, the latter.

Now then, is that such a bad thing? No, The Hegemony is a healthy symbiosis after all. The pictures bring the text alive, giving it much more soul than just the words alone. The text gives the drawings a purpose to fulfill. Also it's only natural that the arrangement is made like this. After all, without the script there would be nothing to visualize (ignore for a moment that I am making a game using a single picture as the source), just like movies are filmed after script has been written. Not the best analogue ever, but to continue it we could talk about directors or animators of a movie or theatre production compared to VN artists. The screenwriters rarely participate in the actual production of a movie, leaving it to the director, the animators or the actors to do that kind of stuff. Of course, a VN is not a movie and it seems that The Hegemony is an essentiality for succesful VN creation. It's just that...

Can the visual artists be co-creators instead of just illustrating the writers' (or someone's) dirty dreams, and would it be a good thing? I'd answer yes to both, to an extent. I requested a design for one of the side characters in Rin's path from the artists a while ago. The end result doesn't look like anything I imagined the character to look like, but it's absolutely amazing and fits the character perfectly, so why would I complain? It's perfect. Obviously I, too support The Hegemony when talking about KS. It is the most natural way of working, and I too prefer most of the visual stuff in game to look at least somewhat like what I imagined when writing, but I fully support the artists giving their own flavour to the game (I'm surprised nobody raised a shitstorm about Misha's new eyecolour). As for us, the artists often ask for confirmation of their illustrations and all in all, I feel that we are working somewhat fluidly and loosely in that aspect. The place where to draw a line is the most important thing. If something looks good, is there a need to try fixing it?

After which, TcDohl added:

I haven't really been in the limelight as of late, but when I do talk about the look and feel of the final product, I often talk about a balance between the "visual" and the "novel". I talk when the "visual" should have more emphasis and when the "novel" should have more emphasis. Overall, we've gotten to a point that the balance between the two becomes more apparent. This is what I keep in mind when I direct the game. Should I emphasize the "visual" part, like when the prose is flourishing and descriptive, or to emphasize the "novel" part when the dialogue is witty and entertaining. I think of it like a sliding scale, whereas the amount of "visual novel" that you're dealing with stays more or less the same, but the "visual" and "novel" parts change with inverse relationship to each other. In this case, they are indeed symbiotic in the sense that one cannot exist without the other, and it often troubles me when a writer intends his part of the script to be able to stand alone and be able to be published in a book by itself. I say that defeats the "visual" part of "visual novel" and throws the balance out of whack. Prose is nice, but in this context, prose is one leg, visuals is another leg and music the third, (which makes it a tripod - music is another subject altogether, one that does not factor into the sliding scale) and the programming the thing that props it all up. Sometimes writers have to know when to emphasize the "visual" and when to emphasize the "novel" and make this intention known. I am always one who advocates balance of all sorts, and this is no difference. We have to know where the right balance is and when, and this is how we make our visual novel great.

Really soon after, DD #20 was posted as well by Aura:
So, we broke the quarter million words milestone, GET went to A22 with the word "plain", coincidentally in the same scene that completed Act 2 for the last path that was still in writing process of the second act.

Other than that, the script alpha for the demo began today (as in, the build got locked and upped to server), but Tc will try to get us a few more testers during this week cause we have good applications and more testers = better. We are trying to scrounge the background source photos while the script alpha and character art production is underway to get everything together at more or less the same time.

In other, but not completely unrelated news, we are currently trying to decide which platforms to support (obvious answer is the ones that Ren'py naturally supports). While we probably will not go as far as including toasters and C64, Suriko came up with this with the help of some groundwork laid by an anon on 4chan:

Saturday, March 1, 2008



最近は沢山の人が私達のBG探しコールに手伝わせてもらった、そしてその中には色んな使える写真が出た、と言うか遣ってしまいました( °3°)。本当にありがとうございます。


  • 看護人の事務所。(この写真には窓は無い)
  • 校門。イギリスの学校みたいなもの。(ゴシックリバイバル建築)
  • 外回りの塀にいる金属製な戸口(戸口は緑色ならBONUS POINTを与える)
  • 学生寮の分け取る風呂。(シャワーがいっぱいありうますとか)
  • 舞台の着替え所。
  • 美術部の物置。
  • 校長の事務所。(窓はゴシックっぽいならBONUS POINTを与える)




Thursday, February 28, 2008

DD #18: Calling Alpha testers, new BG call, and introducing the art team

Hay everyone. TcDohl here. A jam-packed Developer's Diaries for you this time around with lots of news. Firstly, we are making an open call for alpha testers to test the flow and gameplay of the game. Here are the requirements for being an alpha tester:
  • Must not be a part of the current development team.
  • Must not have read or have access to the development section of the boards.
  • Must be able to give instant response to us about a bug, or any overall game problem that one may have.
  • Must have a lot of free time to do lots of playthroughs.
  • Must not leak the alpha version.
Basically, the alpha tester will be responsible for reporting not only bugs, but the overall game experience. Specifically, the text flow and overall game flow must be critiqued. Alpha testers must also not only catch bugs, but must also try to 'break the game' in the game. The alpha version that we'll be handing out will use the art from the nonexistent demo that may or may not have been leaked last year. If you're interested, head over to the boards and apply over there. Alpha testing begins on Monday, 3 March, but you can apply at any time until we say so.

Secondly, we had a good amount of response from our BG open call, and were able to choose a couple of them to use in the final game. However, we still need a lot more, so I'll be expanding the open BG call for the following locations:
  • School nurse's office. There must be no window in the picture.
  • School gate. Must be a gate for an English public school or a private school that has Gothic Revival style architecture.
  • A solid metal door on a perimeter wall. Bonus points if it is green.
  • A shared dorm bathroom. Lots of showers and stuff.
  • A dressing room for a stage.
  • An art storage room.
  • A headmaster/principal's office. Bonus points if the windows are Gothic-like.
Remember that if you'll be submitting a photo, you must be the copyright holder and hand over or release the copyright of your photo to us or release it into the public domain. Found photos cannot be used.

Lastly, it's been a while now, but our art situation has gotten a lot better. The most recent development being our art team now having four members, and having a moemoe style. This is one CG that one of them has finished.

The art team are ambi07, silentkyon, ramoekki, and weeee. The CG shown above is by weeee.

The character sheet above is by silentkyon.

Friday, February 22, 2008

BG Open Call correction

I noted that the submission must abide by cc-nc-nd, but what I meant was that you must give us copyright of the photo for express use in the final product (the game) which is under the cc-nc-nd license.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

BG CALL 日本語バジオン

私達のKatawa Shoujo作成に当たって、皆さんの力が必要です!


写真の権利はゲームの他のコンテンツ同様、Creative Commons cc-nc-nd(表示・非営利・改変禁止)にしたがっている必要があります。

  • 病院の中から窓の写真
  • 病室の中
  • 会館の外、 書院造りみたいな館
  • 会館の中、 食堂(木材な壁)
  • 陸上競技のトラック、観覧席から、そしてトラックからの見晴らし
  • 日本庭園(出来れば池とか川とか有ると可)
  • 日本の市街の写真
  • 日本の田舎の写真
  • Nice boat. (良い船 小型~中型ヨット)
  • ”上海”、日本の喫茶店。伝統的な日本茶屋だけど、現代的な趣向もあり
  • 学生寮の部屋の中

Open call for background photos

We need a little help in gathering some of the backgrounds that we put into our game. We need you, the blog reading public to help us fill some of the gaps. So if you have photos in your computer, or know of a place that you can take a picture of that would be a good fit for the description in the list, please post! A couple of things must be said for photos you may want to submit. Firstly, if you're going to submit a photo, you have to assume that it may be used for the final game and must comply under the cc-nc-nd license along with the rest of our stuff (actual specifics are here). Also, if you're going to submit a photo, either comment in this blog post or post in this thread in the boards.

Here is the list:
  • A hospital window. Any kind would do.
  • A hospital room.
  • The Great Hall exterior, a traditional Japanese-style building, modeled on a shoin.
  • Great Hall interior, a cafeteria with wooden walls.
  • A running track, a view from bleachers and from track level.
  • A Japanese-style garden with a pond or stream.
  • A Japanese suburban streetscape.
  • A Japanese rural streetscape.
  • A Nice Boat (a small-medium size yacht would do)
  • The "Cafe Shanghai", described as "A traditional Japanese teahouse with a modern twist".
  • A dorm room.
That's it so far. I may add more in the future.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Developer's Diaries Episode 17

Hay guyz, TcDohl here. We've had quite a week, but we've made it. The most notable thing that we've had this week is we've recently hit our 200k word milestone (if you're curious, that word is "matter"). We've also had a huge spike in hits lately, thanks to a friend of the project, adxrun, who runs the dekunology blog. Suffice it to say that this blog post brought us more than 30% of our current hit count. In three days (also thanks to a 2ch thread that hit the thread limit of 1000 posts, caused by the blog post).

There was also a discussion on the title of our game (for a number of reasons, one reason being I myself always thought of "Katawa Shoujo" as a working title). The decision was to stay with "Katawa Shoujo" for now, but that didn't stop us from coming up with a few interesting titles. Here are some of them:

"Broken Hearts: Reverie of the Two"
"Coeur: Everything is Perfect"
"Coeur: Rhythm of Life"
"~命のチョウシ~" (Inochi no choushi - Rhythm of Life)

If you like what you see (more than our current title), please go ahead and bother us. I'm sure we'll respond in some way.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Developer Diaries, chapter 16

Busy busy busy. We are closing on the magical 200 000 words, only a few months after the previous milestone was reached. We are fighting out the last bumps on the demo, then we proofread it inhouse and then we think where we could find a few quality checkers to read through the developer alpha of the game to give the script the last polishing.

Jacob of Fakku graciously linked us, meaning that our humble project might just have gotten the attention of the finest elite of the internets' porn-hungry hentai aficionados. Doki doki. It occurs to me that our other assets are not very easily reachable from here, so if your interest is piqued, here:
IRC channel: irc://irc.rizon.net/zettai-shoujou
Developement forums: Katawa Shoujo


I thought I'd post an teaser excerpt from one of the actual game paths, and this weeks winner is Suriko, with this piece of text only called by its mysterious developement codename, L11.


Affectionately pawing Hanako's face with the backs of her fingers, her face looms barely inches above Hanako's face. Hanako's amethyst eyes shy away to the side, unable to meet the gentle gaze of Lilly. Her hair gently brushed aside, the cheek-born scars play their familiar melody across her face, an unseen rhapsody in red.

Nervously held to her chest, her arms tense slightly, her breasts filling out around the smooth backs of her hands.

"L-Lilly... please..."

Taking the side of her face in the palm of her hand, her delicate pale lips brush those of Hanako. Hanako's body relaxes, and for a fleeting second, Lilly's breath gently caresses her face.

As she pulls back, Hanako returns her gentle gaze. Lilly leans in for another kiss. This time though, it overflows with passion, a lustful grab for Hanako's breath.

"Mmmmm.... Mmm..."

Lilly's lust flows over into Hanako, the last vestiges of resistance dissolving in the onslaught. What was a trickle of desire is now a raging torrent of passion, the atmosphere between the two changing perceptibly.

Hanako slowly raises her arms to hold Lilly's snow-white back, her fingers as touching the flawless skin of her pale shoulderblades. Slowly withdrawing her lips from those of Hanako, Lilly slowly lowers herself to Hanako's full breasts. The hands on Lilly's back helplessly slide off and onto the bed, the gaze of her companion transfixed upon her.

"My my, Hana-chan, such a beautiful body..."

A deep breath is the only answer to be given, and the only answer required.

I don't bother to rant about anything so I hope the above is sufficient for a proper diary entry.

- Aura

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.