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