Friday, January 30, 2009

Deconstruct Everything

In eroge, characters are supposed to be attractive, moe and likeable. Because that's the entire point.

Fictional (anime) Characters 101: All moe traits seem to be characteristics that in a real girl would be negative... but for some reason in fictional characters they evoke sympathy, tender feelings and attraction. Audience empathizes with the weaknesses in characters, rather than their strengths. KS girls are moe not because they are awesome at school, running, bureaucracy or bench pressing. They are moe (if they are) because they are weak and they suck. However, overdo this and we get Toradora. I've seen lots of anger on boards and discussions spent on the main cast, who all seem to suck way too much, somehow. Ryuuji is Taiga's Extreme Doormat Forever, Taiga herself is an aggressive, selfish bitch, Minori is an unpredictable devious bitch who doubles for an overdone cloudcuckoolander, Ami is an aloof, snobby and bullying bitch etc. Too much negative with little saving grace. Keeping the deconstructing flag high, I've lately been wondering about the balance of different characteristics, negative and positive ones, and how our characters would scale.

Speaking of Toradora, it's my new funny thing to talk about, but I tend to get a bit of rolling of eyes when I bring up Toradora and KS in the same context without mocking Toradora. Because it's shit, right? Yes... but Toradora is a really good product. I have no idea if I'm hitting anywhere close to the home, but Toradora has the feel of a professional work all over it, despite the shittiness. The people doing it seem to know what the target audience wants (shit) and are not afraid to produce it, with scientific precision. It kinda reminds me of Ken Akamatsu's claimed method of creating the characters of Negima (basically, randomly assigning a combination of moe/other characteristics to each because it wasn't important to make sense, he knew he'd rake in the yens anyway).

We are not pros, we don't even have a well defined target audience, so KS and its characters are quite a bit more... freeform. Constructing good characters is still the most important thing though, and this returns me to the first point. How much it matters if a character is a "bad eroge character", even if he/she would be decent character otherwise and who decides that? KS doesn't have to sell because it's free and I guess in a cynical sense it doesn't even matter if nobody likes it (this is bullshit though). So we kinda can do whatever we want right? Well, we are also clumsily aware of many of the laws of design and writing/art, of the expected expectations in the genre/audience/subculture and such, as I demonstrate above. So I guess we are somewhere in the middle, doing for the most part whatever we want because we are not pro enough to do otherwise, while at the same time worrying that taking the reader into consideration, even mild pandering, could be a healthier approach (have you read The Answer today yet?). This dichotomy can be painful at times.

I mean, one of the writers is somewhat frequently getting paranoid/neurotic panic attacks about his heroine possibly not being likeable enough.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Website Translations II: Translate Harder

In amazingly short time, we now have both German and Japanese translations, thanks to the efforts of Delta and Nobu respectively. Thanks guys.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Website Translations

The official website now supports multiple languages, thanks to the backend work of Delta.

Silentcook's kindly provided us with an Italian translation, but we would also gladly accept a Japanese translation for the website from any Japanese people willing to do so.

The main reasons for wanting a Japanese-translated version of the website is that many of our blog hits are Japanese (usually the second or first highest nationality, in fact), and that there has been much discussion of Katawa Shoujo on Japanese BBSs and blogs. For them to have access to the same amount of information as English-speakers would be a great bonus. Note that we are not promising a Japanese translation of the game, though the possibility does exist.

If you want to contact us regarding this, you can email us, make a post on our forums, or drop into our IRC channel, as per the information on the side of this page.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New IRC Channel on a new Server

G'day all.

Due to technical issues with the Rizon Network, we have now moved to

Additionally, we have changed our channel to #katawa-shoujo to rectify a 24-month old mistake.

Or you could just click here.

If you have any problems finding us, please either comment here, or PM one of the Devs on the Dev Forums

The link to the right is now updated.


P.S. In less technical news, you can find a new wallpaper on the website's download section. Thanks to moekki for the drawings!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Katawa Shoujo Shimmie

Thanks to the efforts of Delta, a repository of fanart past and present has been set up, under the name of the Katawa Shoujo Shimmie.

Registration is closed to non-developers, so if you have fanart that you can't see on there, drop us a line on IRC or on the forums. Please enjoy.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Two More Years!

As the sun rises around the world today, it rises on what is, in many respects, the second birthday of Katawa Shoujo.

It was on the 4th of January, 2007, that the infamous sticky ( ) was posted and this insanity began.

I won't go through the ins and outs of the last 24 months, the post below this one does that pretty well. Instead, I thought I'd just ramble on a bit and hope that, when I show it to the other devs that they have something worthwhile to say.

Having watched this project evolve over the last two years has been interesting. As the first drafts were being finalised earlier this year, I was finding it surprising to see how the scenarios had changed from our initial plans. But what was more interesting was what didn't change; things that were set in motion a year and a half before that stayed the same for that duration. There were a number of scenes that I read that made me smile simply because they were exactly how I imagined them way back when.

It's the same with the art. With every week there's a new batch of sprites or a CG being discussed, planned, or inserted into the game. Each and every time I am amazed at the artist's take on the game; simultaneously different from what I originally imagined and yet somehow totally capturing our original intent.

But the one thing that surprises me the most about this whole project is the support that we are receiving from the outside world. With only the smallest amount of "official" information from us, word has spread far and wide, and the people watching our various public faces (this blog, the webpage, the forums and the IRC channel) is officially boggling. The bursts of publicity are greatly appreciated, and in our super-secret dev forums we keep tabs of every bit of "press" that we receive. That may sound a little narcissistic, but it does help bolster our motivation (which has been known to falter on occasion). Even something as simple as comments on the blog is enough to make us want to do more. Really, I think one of the secrets to us making it this far is the fanbase that we have built up, and we greatly appreciate your support.

As for any "official" release date, well, there is none. What we do intend to do is release a "demo" of the game in a matter of months (as opposed to years). How many months this will be, and what exactly will be in it is yet to be confirmed, but we'll keep you informed. As for a release date for the "Full" game, well, we hope that we can say that it will be out in "months" rather than "years". However, in saying that, I should mention that I am hoping that there won't be a "Third Birthday" post, and I am not alone amongst the devs who think that way.

I think this now technically long enough to be tl;dr, so I'll stop it there. Thanks to everyone, dev and lurker, for the last two years. It's been insane, but in hindsight I'm glad that I listened to that insane little voice in my head when I signed up for the original forums.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Year in Review, and The Year Ahead

Happy new year, one and all!

With 2008 behind us and a new year ahead, this is a look back to everything that happened in 2008, and what looks to be ahead of us for 2009.

Enter, January. All paths were still within their second acts as far as writing went, with no path having breached a dozen scenes. Editing took place on the forums, and there was no head writer or overall vision in place. The basic GUI had taken form (though would still be tweaked later on), but the character sprites and CGs were nonexistant. The first arrivals of our new artist team had mostly joined during February, so it wasn't until then that we saw the first concept sketches posted and sprites begin production. Backgrounds remained all but nonexistant, with the faint hope of finding an artist willing to draw them rapidly dying.

As time went on, people came and went. The decision to use modified photos for backgrounds was initially met with disdain, but in the end turned out to be the only viable option. Not to say it ended up being an easy one - due to the script having ballooned in size due to being constantly worked on despite art and backgrounds having been neglected, a huge backlog had built up. Thanks to the valiant efforts of Yujovi, though, we got all the backgrounds we needed with the photos he's taken. The other backlog - art - moved very quickly from being a dismal and depressing topic to one of great excitement as our art team swelled from four to six, with Moekki, Weee, Gebyy, Kamifish, Ambi and, recently, Raide joining the team. Even in the project's brightest days it had never had multiple artists, let alone one per heroine and an extra. Politics and drama, of course, happened both publically and privately, but the project's managed to get past its disputes and grow in size more and more, reaching an unprecedented high point as it approaches its second year of development.

And so, we reach 2009. What now?

Right now, much of the developer team's focus is on the demo, of which we're aiming at a first half 2009 release for. Some of the artists have already finished their act 1 workload and are continuing onto art assets in act 2 and beyond. Raide in particular is off to a flying start, having done a large amount of art despite arriving only recently.

Finally, in an unrelated note, you may notice that the blog has been updated in accordance to the website's visual design, thanks to Delta's hard work.