I've been lurking since the start of this thread, but I finally decided to make an account after seeing the character poll go up.
I skimmed through the thread for the first game and the demo thread for it and the end point that I agreed with most was that a lot of the things people didn't like/complained about (two different things, those) were things that could've been fixed if the people playing the demo and providing feedback before the game was finished actually said something about it before it was too late.
I liked the first game a lot, I saw where the complaints had grounds, where other complaints didn't, and there was a fair share of things I didn't like. But, as the beginning of that sentence said, I did and do like it a lot, despite anything negative I have to say. Enough to lurk around the next projects and want to provide feedback during production so that more feedback after completion will be good. :) So, congrats on that, Teacup, you have made someone join the forums just to stalk your game.
So! Onto uh.. stuff.
While this is hardly the place for me to be reviewing something from the first game, I kind of want to defend Lucan a bit since it's kinda relevant :| So, I'll be quick. I thought he'd be my favorite from the start, but by the time I finished all routes, I didn't like him much. EVEN SO, I think he was the best thought-out simply because there was something legitimately dislikeable about him. So even though I don't like him much, he's actually my favorite still.
;< And now concerning my choice of Hitomi for the poll... I don't really like the idea of picking a favorite based on just a short paragraph (even if that's supposedly the point for this one), but... I like clumsy boys. Also his girly name. Please tell me he's gonna be a submissive type. ; ;
Gotta say, I'm not much a fan of Mikah yet. It's probably just because I didn't care for Ryuu, but that's terrible in itself. (Myself letting Ryuu ruin Mikah for me, that is.) He's probably just going to not be my taste in the end, since I do have high hopes for the development of each character. But if that's all I can say, I probably shouldn't have said anything about him yet. Ah well. He'll probably be the best kind of improvement for those who liked Ryuu, but for those like me who just can't dig the upbeat ones, I hope we can at least appreciate him. :)
Yusa.. I just hope you know what you're doing with throwing the word "otaku" around. Seeing how you've taken mostly Japanese names this time, I'd like terms like that to be used correctly. That is, "otaku" is not a word meaning "fan of anime." It's the same as the English word "geek." It's to be used with what they're a geek OF. (Though in Japanese itself, the subject is usually obvious enough that just "otaku" is used, whether it's model airplanes or naughty hug pillows. It's a difference in language that should be acknowledged, not adopted.) As well, it's used literally more often than the English "geek" is, meaning one that is called an otaku is probably a bit more into their subject than is normal for a typical hobby. Along with that, it's not used as playfully as "geek" is nowadays, meaning if people were to be calling him an otaku, it'd probably be genuinely meant as an insult like "geek" was several years ago. (So it should go without saying that he probably shouldn't be calling HIMSELF one unless it's a bitter acknowledgement.)
Aa... sorry about that lecture. @_@ If it came across as rude or anything, I'm sorry, I really didn't mean for it to sound that way. While it may be details most people don't care about, I'm something of a perfectionist that can't stand words being misused. I only meant to be informative and helpful with that, not aggressive and insulting.
Anyway, back to Yusa. If you do go through with him being an actual otaku, I'd probably end up finding him more interesting. That type of character is generally a pathetic one, or the fact that they have such a hobby is seen as pathetic in a way that's kind of separate from the rest of their character. (I'd say in about the same way some girlfriends complain about their boyfriends playing things like World of Warcraft often. Boyfriend is seen as fine as long as the game isn't involved.) I'd like to see what direction that goes in, so I want to keep an eye on him! :)
Nemu.. ... Blank. I can't say anything with what's available right now, but he looks like he'd be the first or second path I try. o_o Also, I like how his jacket is kind of falling off and his shirt looks a little wrinkled. I actually wasn't sure if I wanted to vote for him or Hitomi.
Concerning "odd" character paths such as Ren... As someone who was hoping for more with Haruhi's path, I don't want to see Ren suffer the same fate. If his path is really one that isn't romantic, I think being sensitive with all context would be good. That is, make sure that someone doing his path without being informed it's non-romance beforehand wouldn't have any chance to see it as romantic. False hope bad. :(
But! I don't think you should completely rule out the possibility of a romantic path for Ren. Play with the idea some, think of how it could work out including all the drama, and if you just don't think you could write it well or don't feel comfortable with it (which would end in it not being written well, if you have to force yourself), then just stick with pure family.
All paths are optional in the end, so people really don't have the right to complain about a path that deals with a relationship type they don't like unless it's executed poorly. So what I'm trying to say is, if you want to write something kind of out of the norm, you shouldn't be afraid of what people will say about it if all they have to say is "ew, it's wrong." So even if you don't really want to think of Ren in a romantic light, please keep that kind of door open for future projects.
On the different colored ties.. o_o I think you should address that in-game! That bugged me in the first game and was bugging me until you finally said it was based on appearance. Not everyone reads the threads, afterall. It could be fun! Say, perhaps, each boy has a reason for their tie color. Maybe they also think that color looks best on them (and therefore put thought into their limited options of customization that uniforms provide), maybe it'd be an unusual way to be told it's just their favorite color. Actually, the more I think about it, a world of fun could be had with just their ties. o_o Like, how Marin didn't know Lucan and Ryuu were roommates, if any of these boys are roommates, maybe have an awkward day where they've accidentally been wearing each-other's tie. Right there you can have both your mandatory perverted comedy and the introduction that they're roomies. 8D
Artwork so far is a big improvement since the first game, but that's already been said. But, I'm going to be nitpicky... but only because I care. It's already been pointed out that Rinko's eyes are quite a bit larger compared to the boys. The boys all generally have the same size eyes (Nemu's look SLIGHTLY larger in the sprites while Hitomi's look larger in the front image? ... and Nemu's look smallest in the front image?), which is a little off-putting to me, personally. But, since it seems to be something you've associated with gender, I imagine it'd be something of a hard thing to break. While eyes, like all physical features, aren't things people choose for themselves, it's generally a way that personalities are portrayed in fiction. That is, usually the bigger eyes are for younger, happier or more innocent characters while smaller eyes are for older, depressed or more serious characters. That's just what's USUALLY done, though. Nemu and Hitomi's eyes looking bigger in either of those pictures is kind of a reason I like them, since it makes them look more innocent.
But, those are just the eyes and just my opinion. Those are something you decide, but I would like to hear the reason for why they have smaller eyes if it's not just a gender thing. (And I say that honestly, not sarcastically "buh, well let's hear the excuse then duhhh")
The eyes were probably the only thing I really had anything to actually say much about. The rest is just nitpicky/"why is X" stuff. From top to bottom...
Hitomi's shirt looks like it's very short and is coming untucked. O_O Is that intentional? (On his left near his hand.)
Hitomi's sprite looks the most polished out of the boys. While first-glance it's fine, if I see him beside any of the others for long periods of time, he'd really stand out. (The shading looks more in-depth on him than the others. I might have missed somewhere where you said they weren't 100% done yet, and if I did, disregard this for I suck #^%@s.)
Yusa's left hand looks kind of like a stump. o_o I mean, I know it's supposed to be like a fist, but.. Ah, if it's supposed to be like normal arms-crossed where the left hand is tucked between the arm and body, it should probably be shifted a bit more towards his body.
I can't even pin down WHY or how to improve it, so feel free to just ignore this complaint, but Mikah's left hand kind of looks gigantic O_O
I think that's all I can really say at this point in production. I hope none of what I've said has been taken poorly. As I said at the beginning, I do like this. I wouldn't bother to say anything at all, let alone this huge post if I didn't like it or even hated it. :) I hope to be able to provide helpful feedback as more work gets done and the demo comes around. It's not quite Christmas yet of even 2011, but I've been looking forward to Christmas of 2012 since this was announced. So if all of this is accepted, I hope to be around until next Christmas, watching as this project unfolds. Keep up the good work, Teacup!