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.