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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:37 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:30 pm
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Location: Creche Alpha, Treasure Island
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RIGHT NOW
The moment you begin reading this,
Humanity is devastated
By an alien attack
From the edges of our understanding.

IT IS THE FIRST BLOW OF A TERRIBLE WAR.

SEVEN YEARS LATER
Armed with a weapon you cannot comprehend
And can barely operate
You will
strike back.

THIS IS HOW:
With love as your weapon!
With trust as your armor!
Against your Nightmares,
You will not sleep!

BLISS STAGE
Love Is Your Weapon!
The officially sanctioned visual novel based a science fiction game world created by Ben Lehman


Image
Player character Joshua Preston stunned by a display of affection from his Anchor, Meredith Baker


Bliss Stage: Love Is Your Weapon is the highly anticipated visual novel adaptation of the roleplaying game by Ben Lehman, the author of such award-winning tabletop roleplaying games as Polaris: Chivalraic Tragedy at the Utmost North, Hot Guys Making Out: A Yaoi RPG and Clover: A Game Of Idyllic Childhoods (which is basically the Yotsuba RPG, not gonna lie).

Earth has been occupied a long seven years by the aliens known as the Nightmares, creatures both vicious and otherworldly from the mysterious Dream-world; these sinister creatures have locked all but the entire adult population of the world in a prison of pleasant dreams called the Bliss and even now attack those scattered teenage gangs and children's creches still standing in the Wake, using strange and monstrous machines armed with noxious fumes and searing rays and other weapons too hideous to describe.

Image
The Lemure-class Terror Drone, weakest and most numerous of the Nightmare bio-mecha


Now you, as 15-year old survivor Joshua Castellano Preston, are part of a Resistance against the till-now uncontested alien control of Earth. Led by your father, the self-styled Colonel Jim Preston, and armed with a reverse-engineered Alien Numina Inversion Machine, you must lead a mismatched band of child soldiers to victory against the overwhelming might of the Nightmares in the Dream and the Wake.

Image
Colonel James Paul Preston, the last known waking adult and Authority Figure of the Resistance


The power of the Alien Numina Inversion Machine cannot be overstated. With the assistance of an Anchor, a combination sensor operator, hypnotherapist and Operator (from The Matrix,) it allows it's Pilot to fight in the Dreamworld, fully lucid and fully aware. Not only that, but it allows you to summon an ANIMa Unit, a mechanized walking war-machine that exists in both the Wake and the Dream and that is literally made of weaponized love,

Image
Major Anna Lin's ANIMa-00-VF "Phoenix Dragon Sage," here shown in Dragon configuration


Every relationship - every friendship made, every rival cursed, and every lover taken - grants your ANIMa Unit a new weapon, drawn from subconsciously imagined symbols of what they mean to you and made real through the power of the ANIMa. Your crush on that freewheeling girl might be a jetpack; your odd friendship with that blunt, crude riot girl might become a morningstar flail; your relationship with your trusting and protective anchor is always the chassis, the ANIMa Unit itself. But that power comes at a price: Love is literally your weapon, yes, but trust is your armor - and the combination of battle damage to your ANIMa and neglect by yourself can, when combined, utterly destroy that relationship, worse than if you had never met.

Image
An assortment of weapons for Joshua's ANIMa-06-WT Gawain, each a symbol of a relationship to another Resistance member


Bliss Stage: Love Is Your Weapon is a visual novel and RPG where your choices about Joshua's actions and relationships shape his abilities when on the field of battle, in the Dreamworld fighting the sinister alien Nightmares. It switches between strategic RPG-style combat and Visual Novel Interludes that deepen your relationships with Joshua's potential lovers and friends - and therefore increase the power and flexibility of Joshua's ANIMa weaponry.

Features of the full game include:
  • An extremely faithful adaptation of the rules, setting and themes of Ben Lehman's Bliss Stage
  • Character designs by Lemmasoft's own Buttercup Saiyan (Ori~Ochi~Onoe, The Sum Of The Parts)
  • Mecha designs by Jeremy Campbell and Chris Tucker
  • Music by Jasper Worsely (of the band Mutant Zombie Psychos From The Future Past) and "Zoku"
  • Full voice acting, tentatively including the voice talent of Juliet Cesario (Belldandy, Oh My Goddess!) and introducing Shanna Howerton as Meredith Baker and Rebecca Mooney as Yukiko Takahashi
  • Five full romantic plotlines
  • Unique relationship- based weaponry including 6 (+?) Overdrives, powerful activated abilities available at a Relationship's maximum Intimacy
  • Four strategic paths with multiple endings
  • 12-15 hour playthroughs with many hours of replayability
  • Tentative M rating

The alpha prerelease for the Kickstarter backers is now available at our kickstarter page here. If you backed the project on Kickstarter, go there to get the download link and password. There was an earlier issue where the link to the Windows distributable got the Linux one instead: that's been fixed. Thank you for your patience.

This thread is for discussions of the game from a player and fan viewpoint. To discuss the game as an alpha tester or for technical discussions, go here.

_________________
She's sun and rain: She's fire and ice. A little crazy, but it's nice.
Bliss Stage: Love is your weapon! A sci-fi visual novel about child soldiers coming of age. Kickstarter prerelease here. WIP thread here. Original tabletop game by Ben Lehman here. Tumblr here.


Last edited by Tsundere Lightning on Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:42 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:30 pm
Posts: 909
Location: Creche Alpha, Treasure Island
Projects: And plenty of them!
Characters and Plot
Image


Player Character


Joshua Castellano Preston

Image

VA: To be determined

"Don't you worry about me, Meredith. With Anna and God as my witness, I promise that no one here is getting hurt."

The main character and player avatar, Joshua is a 15 year old boy that has survived life in the crumbling ruins of San Francisco for seven long years after the Bliss first hit, losing both his mother Maria to the Bliss and his father, Colonel Preston, to his mission. As Joshua, you will pilot the psychic mecha called the 'ANIMa-06-WT Gawain," made of and powered by your relationships to the rest of the Resistance.

Joshua basically has three 'modes' of expression at game start; the Sensitive, Practical and Idealistic stances, inspired by the dialog wheels in Alpha Protocol and similar to the way Paragon and Renegade choices work in Mass Effect. To all the anime geeks out there, it's the difference between Shinji (Evangelion), Setsuna (Gundam 00) and Shimon (Gurren Lagaan); the impulses that make him a normal child, a soldier and a shining knight, respectively. In theory they aren't mutually exclusive, but maxing out more than one is unlikely and going for all three is deeply problematic. I will include notes about what stances each partner warms up to, in general.

Potential Romantic Partners

Meredith Odetta Baker
Image
(Liked the old image? It's here.)
Comforting Anchor, Quartermaster
VA: Shanna Hullaby

"There are times where it seems that there is far too much empty void in the universe, but consider this: the sheer statistical improbability that two motes of dust could ever meet, and spark, and fuse to release light and warmth shows us that if there are any stars at all, than light and life is winning."

Meredith Baker, while not the first of the Anchors, is the most decorated and skilled one in the Resistance. While she can be manipulative - she has a habit of 'leading the target' in conversation and making someone think a topic of discussion was their idea, not hers - Meredith genuinely wants to help the Resistance, heal her Pilots and the world, and is a comforting presence in the blasted and burned wasteland that is the Wake, post-Bliss. She prides herself on her intelligence: indeed, her childhood heroes growing up were Odetta Holmes (the source of her middle name), chemist Bessie Coleman and Madame and Monsieur Curie, and on the fictional front Hermione Granger and the illustrious Missus Sparkle from My Little Pony.

Meredith is skilled at defensive operations and damage control in ANIMa combat, blunting the blows of enemy telepathic assaults capitalizing on pilot Trauma, and is always willing to lend her ear and a jar of sweet sun tea to the ends of helping a Pilot recover from the tremendous mental stresses of combat. As Joshua's primary Anchor, she forms the chassis of his Gawain, and additionally gives it two plasma-punch daggers called the Bee Stings.

Meredith is a Practical, no-nonsense girl of great intelligence with a Sensitive streak miles wide.

Sara Smith
Image
Innocent Sweetheart, Pilot of the ANIMa-05-HA Beautiful Lilith
VA: Juliet Cesario (Belldandy, Oh My Goddess! dub)

"I'm going to do my best to help everyone, and not even Derek can stop me!"

Sara Smith is the youngest of the new crop of ANIMa Pilots, having turned 13 last February 13th. She's an artist and a tomboy, and is relentlessly cheerful in a calculated act of defiance against the despair-wielding Nightmares. Not to say it's an act; Sara is a true innocent, not because she doesn't understand the costs of the war but in spite of them. Sara is truly grateful for the chance to aid the war effort, the power to do good and save lives and maybe come off as a hero in the vein or Sailor Moon or Lucy Pevensie in the process: Yukiko would add 'Asuka on Prozac' to that list.

Her ANIMa unit, the Hover Assault ANIMa 'Beautiful Lilith,' is an implacable advancing wall of trust; a knightly tank in white iPod armor, wrapped around a huge hover-turbine resembling a hoop skirt and armed with a combination of high-tech, starfire-slinging magical girl wands and utterly serious chivalrous weaponry. Joshua to her is the Lance of Heaven, a bident with a glowing red jewel that calls forth lightning - well, okay, ion particle blasts; she grants Joshua the use of the Seraphim Wings, a thruster block with six independently moving ventiers that allow his Gawain to fly and to dodge much more effectively.

Sara is both Idealistic and Practical; she is a Pilot to save a world that in her opinion is both good and worth fighting for.

Derek Smith
Image
Experienced Anchor, Mechanic, Chaplain
VA: Jonathan Fortin

"It is an Alien Numina Inversion Machine; that much is accurate. But I didn't originally call it that. I called it the Anima Weapon - and to this day I still believe that it calls upon the souls of those we love."

Derek Smith considers the ANIMa to be a miracle, a gift from God that invokes the souls of a Pilot's allies to fight an enemy that may as well be demonic. He may even be correct. Derek is a mechanic by training, a Jungian in philosophy and a Christian in practice, devoted to the defense of his sister and to all of the vanishingly rare innocents in the post-Bliss world. He would much rather his sister not fight on the front lines, but Derek will be damned if he won't help her fight in the strongest armor that can be forged from trust.

He's always willing to lend out a copy of Ender's Game or The Screwtape Letters to Joshua, and you're going to want him in your camp if you take an interest in his sister. It's also possible for Joshua to reciprocate Derek's interest in him - pray that Sara is your friend if you do! His gift to Joshua in battle is the Clover Shield, a four-paned wrist-mounted shield of force that draws on Derek's sanity and faith to repel the insanity and despair that fuels a Nightmare assault.

Derek Smith is a consummate Idealist and a Sensitive softie. Nothing matters to him but the chance at a bright and blessed future, for his sister if not for him.

Gabriel Invierno
Image
Eager Young Soldier, Childhood Friend of Joshua, Pilot of the ANIMa-07-SW Ixitli Ocelotl
VA: TBD

"Raised by wolves? ...No, not really. I was raised by Ocelotl. ...I'm not sure I'm joking."

Gabriel was once a friend of Joshua's, before the Bliss. Now, though, although she would still consider Joshua a friend, she's not the same person. The Bliss changed her, made her quieter, a little weird and very feral. She doesn't begin the game in Joshua's Resistance, but as the last surviving Pilot of her own creche in the Mission District. Her callsign there was Gatita, or Kitten, to reflect a brutal style of bushwhacking that's anything but cute. She misses the days when she was called by her name - Gabriel - and when she wasn't confused by a wealth of new feelings, sensations, and bizzare dreams.

Gabriel doesn't begin the game allied to your Resistance, but she's not hard to recruit if you know where to look. Her ANIMa unit, rechristened the ANIMa-07-SW Ixitli Ocelotl by Joshua's Resistance, has a Deep Stealth Array that allows her to snipe or strike from ambush, with obsidian-black, razor sharp claws and a host of other short-ranged weapons at blinding speed. Joshua grants her an ionic revolver, the Colt Dragoon of blaster weaponry. Her gift to you is the Black Maquihuitl, an energy sawblade capable of ripping through the most powerful illusions.

Gabriel is Sensitive above all else, absorbed in her own confusing world, trying to make sense of her own feelings and impulses.

Anna Lin
Image
Seasoned Veteran, Pilot of the ANIMa-00-VF Phoenix Dragon Sage, Former Ganglord, Mother
VA: TBD

"Just so long as you have no presumptions that you're a hero, or my friend, I think we'll get along fine, Preston. Just remember that I've seen better than you break before worse things than you can possibly imagine. Don't fuck up."

Major Anna Lin is not the girl she once was. She lead a gang, once, and has the scars and tattoos to prove it; she joined to to protect the mostly Chinese orphans there from their worst instincts, and left when it became clear that it wasn't happening. She joined the Resistance as their first test Pilot, got knocked up by one of her teammates, and got knocked down - repeatedly. She's now on the cusp between youth and old age, speed and treachery, life and death - or Bliss. Anna Lin is still fighting for the sake of her boy Archer, beaten but far from broken.

She's the Wing Commander of the Resistance, the only one with the rank of Major and the de-facto boss of Joshua. Her ANIMa unit, the 00 - VF - Phoenix Dragon Sage, is capable of transforming from between a jet, a VTOL gunboat, and a walker, and is armed with a variety of supremely powerful weapons such as the Singular Void Reactor and the Sunshattering Crossbow, that last made of love for her little boy Archer. To her, Joshua is the Psychic Cudgel, a rod or hilt that can form any melee weapon and some ranged ones out of a shaped plasma field, defaulting to a quarterstaff. She grants Joshua the use of the Lu Bu Tactical Helm, an advanced set of head-mounted sensors including a rangefinding laser that can increase it's focus and power temporarily to become a cutting beam.

Anna Lin is Practical. Fuck-ups need not apply to her wing, let alone another shot at her bruised and bleeding heart.

Other Major Characters

Colonel James P. Preston
Image
Authority Figure, Joshua's Father, and Strategic Leader of the Resistance

VA: TBD

"As much as I would like my son back, I don't need a son: I need a Pilot. Can we work together on that basis, at least, for now, boy?"

Colonel Jim Preston is the supreme commander of what remains of the United States Marine Corps, the Treasure Island ANIMa corps. It is thanks to him that the Resistance exists; thanks to him that Anna Lin is a Major, the Pilots are Lieutenants, and the Anchors are Specialist-Captains. He named the ANIMa. And he will not sleep, not one second, not if that gives him his singular chance to save the human race - and wreak his revenge on the alien monstrosities that he named the Nightmares for the Bliss of Maria Castellano Preston. That his son survived to join him... well, it complicates things. Still, he counts that as a blessing, even if he can never show it.

Comparisons to the manipulative, villainous chessmaster Gendou Ikari are probably inevitable with this complex and very broken man, but there's one thing the USMC Colonel named James Paul Preston has that Gendou didn't: A conscience. Colonel Preston knows that he is no longer the man who fathered Joshua Preston. That he's no longer the man who fell in love with Maria Esperanza Castellano during that Marine op to Colombia. That he's no longer the man who took a job tutoring snot-nosed punks who preferred Job Corps to jail time, helping them get Guard Cards and a chance at redemption. No. That man could sleep at night. Jim can't afford that luxury, anymore, thanks to the Bliss - even if his deeds and the amphetamenes wouldn't keep him up late anyway, forcing him to contemplate if he did the right thing. Colonel Preston is very, very tired; tired of the expedient decisions he's made for the sake of the Resistance.

Joshua's personal ethics matter little to him. He can earn the Colonel's respect in battle - assuming Joshua even wants that, now.

Keenan Caine
Image
Carefree Hedonist, Resistance Herald and Courier, Ladies Man, Best Friend or Best Rival
VA: TBD

"Love is my weapon! But failing that, lust makes a nice holdout, and I can even use how pissed you get at me in a pinch."

An Oakland native (by way of Hurricane Katrina rampaging through his parents restaurant in New Orleans), Keenan Caine describes himself as a smooth talker and a ladies man. He makes Piloting, negotiation and flirting look easy, and has a way with girls that captured Yukiko's heart, Mulan's lusts, Sara's private fantasies - and Anna's wrath. He survived the gang wars that wracked the Bay Area post-Bliss by acting as a neutral courier or herald, too valuable because of his neutrality for any gang to risk making a move for him. Now, he's the herald of the Resistance, the man you need to talk to if you need dross or diamonds from San Francisco or the secure the allegiance of a gang.

Don't let his carefree hedonism fool you, though - the affections of Yukiko and the attentions of Mulan grant him supremely powerful artillery pieces for the ANIMa - 04 - AC - Chevalier d'Samedi, a herald of death to the Nightmares in the form of a centaur, fitting for someone who grew up on bedtime stories starrinng voodoo cheval. His devil-may-care attitude is no mask - but neither is his utter seriousness in combat. Pray you don't earn his rivalry: this is someone who you want with your back when he starts raining support fire from the Met Tet Array and the Machete d'Shango.

Keenan is Sensitive off the job and mercilessly Practical at all other times.

Yukiko Takahashi
Image
Savvy Anchor, Resistance Librarian and IT Technician, Dispenser of Good Romantic Advice, and Last Keeper Of Teh Internets
VA: Rebecca Mooney

"Love, Joshua. Not romance, not lust, not sloppy makeouts. One of our Pilots has her brother as an Anchor, and she's a goddamn tank. Welcome to Nerv, Joshua! I'm our staff psychologist oh god why."

Given her parents background working for the San Francisco-based media giant Viz, Yukiko Takahashi can be forgiven for pointing out she has "no relation to Rumiko-sama, more's the pity." The self-proclaimed Last Keeper of Teh Internets is an accomplished Anchor for two reasons: firstly, because she's absolutely devoted to pretty-boy Keenan Caine and his Met Tet in combat; second, because the interpersonal drama and psychedelic war dreams of the Resistance are just like her Japanese mangas, as far as she's concerned. And if you got that last reference, you might have just earned her friendship forever. It's lonely being the only nerd in the Resistance, after all.

Apparently, reading a lot of good romance stories makes you a good person to go to when someone needs advice on a romance; Yukiko is relationship savvy and genre savvy both. If you can endure her reference-dense, metatextual asides and remind her to speak in English, then there's no one else in the Resistance as able or cheerfully willing to help Joshua juggle his relationships.

Yukiko is a Sensitive and Idealistic and a romantic, albeit one that's a bit on the H side. You COULD blame Keenan for that, but you'd be mistaken if you did.

Laura Mulan Porter
Image
Survivor, Gangster, Daft Riot Girl and self-described 'Fun Time Had By All'
VA: TBD

"You could call me a troubleshooter, gwailo, in that I find trouble and shoot it."

What can you say about this daft punkette? Mulan's the sort of girl who will gladly lift her shirt to show off her crouching tiger tattoos, but break your wrist if you try to lay a finger on her without warning; the sort of girl that sleeps with Keenan if and only if he reserves his romantic attentions for Yukiko - or really, for anyone but herself. Mulan drinks and swears like the soldier she considers herself, in a calculated act of intimidation designed to keep everyone put off by appearances at bay. Unfortunately for her, it works; Mulan has few friends and brags that she has even fewer living enemies. Who knows if that last part is true?

Once Anna's lieutenant in the gangs, and still often called her lapdog, Mule - Laura by birth, may God have mercy on you if you call her by that name - now handles the enemies of the Resistance that rely on a more personal scale of response than fifty feet tall walking tanks made of solidified emotional energy. When that happens, she switches her hip flask for the classic molotov cocktail - "Gasoline, with a twist" as she puts it - and heads out with Keenan to negotiate with the gangs from a position of superior force.

What could she be other than Practical? Well, Sensitive actually, but don't you DARE tell nobody.

Simon Corazon
Image coming soon!
Tempestuous Anchor, Hermano Practical del Gabriel Invierno, and Soft-Spoken Teen
VA: Jennifer Pillow-Taylor

"Gabriel is Gabriel. I'm not worried when she gets like this unless it doesn't pass for a week. Give her time."

More to come! Feel free to start posting and speculating now.

_________________
She's sun and rain: She's fire and ice. A little crazy, but it's nice.
Bliss Stage: Love is your weapon! A sci-fi visual novel about child soldiers coming of age. Kickstarter prerelease here. WIP thread here. Original tabletop game by Ben Lehman here. Tumblr here.


Last edited by Tsundere Lightning on Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:25 am, edited 8 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:42 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:30 pm
Posts: 909
Location: Creche Alpha, Treasure Island
Projects: And plenty of them!
And this thread is now open for business! Mind the dust - it's still under construction.

I'd like for discussion to focus on your thoughts about the story, art style, and characters in this thread. Which characters you like, what you think of Buttercup's overall style for this game and of Jasper, Chris and Jeremy's mechs and mosters, preemptively claiming waifus (or husbandos; Derek needs some love!), and speculating about the story.

If anyone has worksafe fanart they'd like to post here, that's cool too! I don't mind Rule 34 on my work - frankly, it's kind of flattering when someone finds a character in a romance game attractive enough to speculate on that part of the relationship - but this isn't the place for it. Likewise, keep discussion M rated at worst, preferably T rated.

Also, please put major storyline spoilers
Snape kills Colonel Preston with Rosebud just outside the Village!
under spoiler blocks like that one. Stuff like "Gabriel's romance is cute" or "Wow I really want to punch the Colonel after mission 3" is fine; stuff minutely detailing how, why, and where is not.

Specific discussion topic! One thing I was thinking of doing was to release the public beta - the "Pretty Demo" - for free, but unvoiced. This would give us time to complete voice acting for the content in the demo, and to offer the voice patch as a bonus for people who preorder the full game. What do you guys think of this idea?

_________________
She's sun and rain: She's fire and ice. A little crazy, but it's nice.
Bliss Stage: Love is your weapon! A sci-fi visual novel about child soldiers coming of age. Kickstarter prerelease here. WIP thread here. Original tabletop game by Ben Lehman here. Tumblr here.


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