[Self-Contained Unfinished Release] Geomancer Chronicles Ch1

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DaFool
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[Self-Contained Unfinished Release] Geomancer Chronicles Ch1

#1 Post by DaFool » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:34 am

After two weekends of work (and one weekend of figuring things out), here is my first game.

It's a 5-minutes kinetic novel. I'm afraid to say my creative writing skills are not at all spectacular, but if you look you'll notice that some effort was put into the work.

I originally wanted to do a poem, but I couldn't stretch that to 5 minutes. Anyway, this is practicing what I have preached about chapter-based serial releases, so here it is :lol:

Everything except for the Ren'Py engine was an original creation. However you'll notice some eerie likeness to other things you may be familiar with :D you'll see.

The attached file is the distribution version with packed images and no extraneous files. If you find it bug-free (it passes lint and everything else), you may also request the demonstration version which is essentially the same thing but with unpacked images and the script.rpy included.

Couple of things I'm not too sure about...

1.) Skipping Mode - Since I micromanaged a lot of timing (pauses, starts, stop, etc.) this may actually not work all the time, if at all. Not that you'd need it for a 5-min kinetic novel with no branches.

2.) Slight unintended motion in character animations. Notice the mouth moves slightly when blinking. This was unintended since I looked at the original files and I had not inadvertently moved the object before exporting to .png. Perhaps this is the result of low resolution and the compressed file format. It doesn't look too bad though.

3.) I originally wanted to start out with a slower (non-instant) text speed but didn't have time to look up changing the persistent initial state. At least when this game launches its not fullscreen but windowed last time I checked, as I intended.

4.) I believe this is the most minimal filestate I could get for a distribution version. I can provide the demonstration version from home if needed.

edit:

5.) The volume of music is too loud compared to the volume of sound effects. I know I can set this in the persistent initial state. I don't get it really since I used the same software for both.

By the way, at this point I am not sure where the story is going at all ^_^.

Now some screencaps:

Image

Enjoy, and please be gentle :roll:
Last edited by DaFool on Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

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#2 Post by DaFool » Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:40 am

Lol forgot the file....baka baka :o
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#3 Post by denzil » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:40 am

Nice thing. The story sounds interesting, but I guess I will have to wait for the rest to really tell. But I liked what I seen.
I hadn't any problems with music volume, maybe you have set midi volume too high in windows. But in menu I couldn't see highligting and what parts of menu are unclickable (go to preferences from main menu and look at save/load both look same but you can't select save).

Edit: Just noticed you use midi both for music and sound. Then you probably use different volume for sound and for music in Ren'Py.
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#4 Post by BlackSpider » Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:30 am

Looks like a good start. Can't say more right now because it's a little short. Backgrounds look good. You might want to improve your ingame Melinda character though. At a few points I do have a feeling that her hands are drawn a little too low and look kind of unnatural if you know what I mean.

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#5 Post by Watercolorheart » Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:13 pm

I am downloading it as we speak, I will look at it tonight at the same time I look over some other things that my colorist (StickofJapanese) did for me.

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#6 Post by monele » Mon Aug 14, 2006 2:20 pm

I'll probably sound quite negative since I don't know what you were exactly going for so..... well um, I'll just state things as I felt them ^^;

I was also bothered by the lack of highlight in the menus. I just realized how important it was to have a visual feedback on things clickable.

The music, while not bad at all, felt a bit thrown in there. I realize some of them were very short so maybe you were trying for jingles instead of background music ? If it was background music, it would need longer scenes so the music can sink it. Otherwise it was okay for the music part. Scenes were still rather short.

Well ok, overall I guess I'm mostly annoyed at the pace. The whole thing is short, alright, but there's still a lot going on... and sometimes in a few seconds (2 clicks if you will ^^). Note that the fact you're going episodic means you could actually take your time, since people won't have to wait for so long until the next installment. Maybe it would be nice to explain things a bit more or have more "ambiance" moments ? Rain scenes could be slower, while sunny scenes could be more energetic, for example.


The backgrounds are really neat. It sometimes looks like a collage. Interesting :).

I like the rather "photoalbum" feeling of all the scenes, especially with the girl being in multiple places. This makes me think you're not trying to have movie-like scene, but almost a documentary approach, with few dialogues and more thoughts. Is this right ?

I liked the few effects there were. The passing of time (town scene) still looking good. And that train scene was nifty ^^. Transparency and a bit of imagination can do wonders.

So yea, pace and length. 5 minutes is definitely too short to sink into the story. Short is good enough for comedy, but not for drama I think. 10 or 15 minutes could be better in that regard ^^

Will be waiting for the next installment now... obviously ^^

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#7 Post by Watercolorheart » Mon Aug 14, 2006 2:42 pm

I played it, the art was very nice. I think I was expecting something more amatuerish overall, instead I found the simple art growing on me. It was very detailed in some places, like the rain and the train.

What really jarred me was the sound: the sound effects didn't loop consistantly, the music was ...... odd and completely out of place. With the speed it takes me to read something, sometimes I was only listening to 10 seconds of a track that probably would last something like a minute or more, before it switched to a very loud and obnoxious effect, like the train rattling ...

I remember doing Unwoven, and playing around in Goldwave for about 10 minutes to get the bicycle clicking to loop smoothly. I did get it, eventually. From what I remember of the game, it almost had *too* much text where this is like the complete opposite ...

Did you consider breaking up or extending descriptions in order for the music to play completely? You can easily stretch a scene without resorting to "filler text" just by not summarizing something, but really getting into it and describing the little nuances.

It flew by so fast that only two things impacted me about this girl: she is cute holding the hat, and he liked the feel of her skirt against his thigh when they sat on a bench. You need more little things like that, to make it personal ...

Also that she likes to move around a lot as she talks. ^_^

I think what I'm trying to say, is that the ideas and art are all good. What is missing to me is better sound/music and a bit more writing.

I didn't have a clue what a Geomancer was, I had to look it up. That's bad.

Wikipedia rescued me as to what a Geomancer is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomancer

Before you end the game, perhaps you can define what a Geomancer is, a fortuneteller that divines with sand or whatever. Perhaps Boy and Girl have an offhanded conversation about it mid-game, without it seeming to be really important, just like they chatted about car companies.

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#8 Post by Rika-chan » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:08 pm

Great, a game that's short enough for me to play and comment on. As with any critique, I think you should realize that my comments are my opinion, and you're under no obligation to follow them.

First, I should say that I turned on the Auto-Forward option. :) The game flows very nicely, and I noticed no problems.

I like your backgrounds. I suck at them, so I'm a little envious.

About the story. I know it's just chapter one, so I took that into consideration, but I don't think it grabbed me. In writing classes they always talk about that "hook" in the beginning, that catches the reader's interest, and makes them want to keep reading. I didn't feel that, unfortunately. I wasn't sure why I should care about this character. No offense, but the story just starts out with him monologuing, talking about his life, and I just didn't care. I'm sorry if that sounded rude, that's just what I felt.

Some things that were in the text that bothered me. The smiley, ^_^. Sure, you're among people who understand what that means, but what if someone plays your game who doesn't? Get rid of the smiley. Show me that the character is happy, don't shortcut it. It's looks unprofessional to me. Also, the TV show or whatever it was, kinda knocked me out of the story, because I have no idea what it is or what it means. You might try hyperlinks or something. Oh, one weird thing. The car company. Don't rearrange DaimlerChrysler, please. It was obvious and weird. Just make something up, the readers will understand.

The music. It was pretty appropriate at most times, although I think I would have like more ambient noise, but that's me. I think Ren'Py has a music fadeout option, please use it. I hate it when music just stops for no reason. It's abrupt and knocks me out of the story. Also, one of the pieces didn't loop very well. You might want to fix that.

I think you're off to a good start. Don't take the things I said too personally. I'm not out to get you; I'm here to help you. Things that I said about your story may change as I see more of it. Most of all, I think it's great that you actually finished something, even if it's a chapter. Can't wait to see more.

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#9 Post by PyTom » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:15 pm

[quote="Rika-chan" I think Ren'Py has a music fadeout option, please use it. I hate it when music just stops for no reason. [/quote]

IIRC, music fadeout isn't implemented for midi music (which goes through a completely different path then PCM (wav, mp3, ogg, mod, etc.) music.

Also, you probably want to group "with None" statements with "with dissolve" statements, as such:

Code: Select all

with None
scene ...
show ...
with dissolve
Otherwise, you get the text dissolving out, and then popping back in, which looks strange.
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#10 Post by DaFool » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:18 pm

Thank you for your responses, they really help me a lot.

The strength of the indy ren'ai community, and what they like best, is good writing. That's something I will focus on.

I am obviously still trying to find the optimum balance between words, music, and visuals. I was more influenced by the pacing of conversational dialogue than prose descriptive writing, I guess I was wrong. Plus the fact that I just had a backlog of bg art which I just had to show off :roll:

But don't worry, the next installment will be at least 20-25 minutes. I am starting from scratch, so I can use the advice I receive plus what I learned from hands-on to make production smoother and more consistent.
I would have also fully solidified the Geomancer worldview, because a week ago I haven't even a faintest clue how to describe it.

You've heard of Kita He ~Diamond Dust Drops and Seraphim Call -- various girls each with their own story, that's the sort of treatment I may give. But don't worry, Melinda-chan will definitely have more screentime, as she is the 'main' girl after all.

I'll try to make the stories as 'extensive' as possible, extensive meaning long without being filler. I may have to cut down on art but we'll see, I think I may find a balance somewhere.

edit: and another thing, once I've had a good sizable amount of content, I can string chapters together, upgrade to 800X600 or higher as well as tweaks overall, put them on disc and sit next to Ryukishi07 at Comike :lol: Or something of the sort. Now you know my evil plan.

edit2: I am taking in all comments, technical, artistic, and literary-directed ones. I think I would implement them first on subsequent chapters before going back and polishing the first. That way I will have concluded my story and will know how to edit better. And each chapter may be taken somewhat independently, like the animes I've mentioned. I'm even thinking of doing a totally different artstyle but from comments so far I think I'll stick to the current one and polish :)

Please keep the comments coming. :D Thank you!
Last edited by DaFool on Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#11 Post by mikey » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:42 pm

Unfortunately, the inlaws are all over the place, I'll grab the game tomorrow. But congratulations!! :P

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#12 Post by Rika-chan » Mon Aug 14, 2006 4:08 pm

PyTom wrote:
Rika-chan wrote: I think Ren'Py has a music fadeout option, please use it. I hate it when music just stops for no reason.
IIRC, music fadeout isn't implemented for midi music (which goes through a completely different path then PCM (wav, mp3, ogg, mod, etc.) music.
I'm surprised by that. It seemed like such an obvious function that I figured it would have been implemented by now.

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#13 Post by PyTom » Mon Aug 14, 2006 4:25 pm

The problem with midi music is that it goes through a completely different path from PCM music. What's worse, the details of this path differ on Windows, Mac, and Linux. (On Linux, it _does_ go through the PCM path, provided you have timidity configured properly. And you're really lucky.)

Probably one day I'll rectify this, and implement fades for midi... but it just hasn't been a big priority, what with all the other problems with midi.
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#14 Post by DaFool » Mon Aug 14, 2006 4:36 pm

That's no problem, PyTom. I could just import the midi and convert to mp3 or ogg. Besides, midi just doesn't have richness. I really want to have the feel of real musical instruments, but without real musical instruments. If you noticed, most anime in the nineties had synthesizer soundtracks. Its only lately that we've enjoyed chamber music.

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#15 Post by monele » Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:23 pm

Plus the fact that I just had a backlog of bg art which I just had to show off
So that's what it was ! :D. I guessed it might be the reason you were going so fast through BGs ^.^. But really, keep some in your bag for the next episodes and such ^^. Otherwise you have nothing new to show the next time or you'll have a *lot* more work to provide with just as many new bgs.

About midi : the good thing about midi music is that given the appropriate Sound Bank, you can export something that sounds just as good as a regular MP3.

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