Broken Hearted: A 9/11 Story

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PyTom
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Broken Hearted: A 9/11 Story

#1 Post by PyTom » Mon Sep 11, 2006 12:46 am

The game I've been working on for the last week or so is now out. The kinetic novel, "Broken Hearted: A 9/11 Story", has been posted to its official website:

http://www.9-11game.com

I'll come right out and say that this game is not for everyone. Many people aren't ready for fiction dealing with 9/11, and I can respect that. This is one of the saddest visual novels I've played, and the sadness is made worse by its connection to real events.

At the same time, there's more then that. This game is also one of the most romantic that I've played, as it shows a relationship develop over the course of a decade.

BH features original character art, photographic backgrounds, and original music. On behalf of our team (and in the place of its leader, who asked me to post this message), I invite you to play Broken Hearted.
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#2 Post by denzil » Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:39 am

So, I got to the end... I'm not really sure what I feel right now - the game has both sad and happy parts and the sad ones probably didn't affected me as much as someone who is living in USA or lost someone there.
The game, it's well written and the graphic and music is good too. The only thing I actually disliked was main menu, the colors just didn't fit with rest of the game.

Well, in the end I liked the game.
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#3 Post by DaFool » Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:16 am

I can't say I am eager to play this, but it looks like a well-put-together production.

I was living in the U.S. at that time, and had classmates who lost parents. I've also had relatives who lost colleagues.

If this were a commercial production sponsored by Hollywood or something (you know what movies I am talking about), I would do total boycott.

However this seems to be something from the heart from those who lived most of their lives in the area, so it is somewhat welcome.

I won't probably put up a review until I feel like playing it, but rest assured it will be considered with respect.

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#4 Post by mikey » Mon Sep 11, 2006 8:58 am

Hmmm, it's a difficult subject. One will somehow automatically treat it differently, so who knows if "reviewing" it is a good idea at all.

I can make some technical comments regarding the presentation though - I liked the menus, I liked the music, and the backgrounds were also nice as unfiltered photographs. The sprite art was very nice and often cute - who'd believe they are 23 :wink:. Sometimes though, the characters are not proportional to the actual background. Especially in the classroom and some other scenes (screenshot 2 and 3). It takes a bit getting used to. And I am very sensitive to perspective, so it took that bit more for me. On the other hand, I liked the date indicator and the save and pref buttons integrated into the interface. So there you go, technical comments :?

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#5 Post by PyTom » Mon Sep 11, 2006 9:44 am

denzil >>> I'll take responsibility for the menu colors. For a while, the menus were done in shades of gray... but we didn't want to overwhelm people with darkness, so fairly late in the game I reverted the colors to the defaults.

DaFool >>> We don't want anyone to play this before they are ready. Some people will never be ready, and that's fine with us. I don't know anyone in commuting distance of NYC that didn't know someone who died.

mikey >>> You're right about the perspective. I think it's best to consider the backgrounds as representational things, rather then traditional backgrounds. That's why there are drop-shadows on the characters, to separate them from the backgrounds a bit.

(I had to pause while writing this post, as they read out the name of a man I knew who was killed on 9/11.)
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#6 Post by Reflection » Tue Sep 12, 2006 7:58 am

Hello.

I am the character Designer for Broken Hearted, and would like to say that I'm pleased people like my graphics.

On the note of perspective and backgrounds, it's quite hard to make the two meet in getting the graphics to look right, but the idea of Tom's to make the drop shadows separate them makes it easy to do so.

I am glad to have drawn the characters, and am one day looking forward to making my own ren'ai game someday!

^_^

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#7 Post by DaFool » Tue Sep 12, 2006 1:02 pm

Yeah I like the graphics, though they look a little too cheery and not sombre (?)

Well, I've haven't gotten yet to play it. But hey, it's being torrented now. I guess you've opted for a wider release despite the stipulations 'it's not for everyone'.

Well, so is everything nowadays.

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#8 Post by Taleweaver » Tue Sep 12, 2006 5:46 pm

Played it, and I must say, I'm... well, divided on the question how I liked it. I'm very impressed with how the post-9/11 mood is expressed in the few sequences that show the world around it - the crying in the house, the reaction of the old neighbor, the people outside. The flashbacks were okay and brought background to the relationship that was ended by 9/11, but frankly, a few of the scenes lacked impact in the greater scope of the whole story.

The narrative itself also felt a little... cold to me. It must have been immensely difficult to find words for a terrible tragedy like 9/11, especially from the perspective of a first-person narrator. In some passages, I could feel with him; unfortunately, that wasn't too often. Maybe the appropriate mood just couldn't be conveyed because of the rather light-hearted flashbacks.

Taken as two different visual novels, one telling a story of romance in the past and one telling a story of loss, Broken Hearted is a fine accomplishment. The actual mixture unfortunately took away impact from both IMO.
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#9 Post by Puppychow » Tue Sep 12, 2006 11:47 pm

I appreciate your detailed feedback, Taleweaver. And let me try my best to address the issues you raised.

Writing the script is challenging on many levels. First, it has to be factually accurate, particularly the sequence of events that occurred on the day of 9/11. Second, where was the main character relative to this chain of events?

Third, the work is intended to "qualify" as a renai game, and therefore contains a heavy romance element in the story. The flashback scenes harken back to a pre-9/11 childhood. And I made the scenes light hearted purposedly (i.e. I could have talked about the Cold War, AIDS, and other concerns of the day in the 90s). For this reason: for kids who were born post 9/11. For them, 9/11 is like a little black cloud always hanging over their head. Perhaps it's a bit optimistic on my part, but I hope that 10 years, 15 years, 20 years from now, people born after 9/11 will look at Broken Hearted, and catch a glimpse of what life was like before 9/11, and before the word "terrorism" is a part of daily life.

Broken Hearted is written as a look back for those who lived through that tragic day, and as a "time capsule" for future generations.

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#10 Post by Alessio » Wed Sep 13, 2006 9:21 am

The topic rather put me off, but luckily the story is told from a personal perspective and does not fall into the trap of just echoing events. 9/11 provides the background, but does not overwhelm the story. My thoughts:

- Very nice artwork, very individual style. Liked it very much. I'm wondering why the colours surrounding the lines are a bit unclean - did that happen during the colouring process?

- Unprocessed background photos are fine, and PyTom's cast-shadow trick worked. But in some cases I'd have preferred pictures that are less "zoomed in your face" (closeup of chairs etc.).

- Good screenplay, and the contrast between flashbacks and present works well. The light-hearted mood fits. The nurse's name was a nice touch. :)

- IMHO, the beginning felt rushed, as if the author tried to reach the main part of the story too quickly. I'd have either fleshed it out a little more, or (if length was an issue) cut out some parts and extended others. It sometimes felt more like a quick rundown of events than like a prologue.

- Two small bugs: "Heather turns to Nat." should rather be "Heather turns to me", and "I'll pick you up when classes are over" etc. should be spoken by Heather.

All in all, congrats. I liked it and got very attached to the characters. Sad, yes, but also with a positive message, which suggests that your statement above ("a little black cloud always hanging over their head") will be proven wrong in time, and people will always succeed in finding a positive view on life.

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#11 Post by Jake » Wed Sep 13, 2006 8:24 pm

Overall, I liked it. It wasn't subject matter I'd have chosen, but I was glad to see it dealt with in a... well, a matter-of-fact kind of way. Having been saturated for five years with propaganda and rhetoric, I was kind of dreading playing through this expecting either politics or played-out mawkishness. As it was it was pretty powerful and personal without being silly.

If I had a criticism, it would be that the scenes between flashbacks seemed a little pointless. They seemed in places more like punctuation to pace the story than worthwhile scenes in their own right.
Puppychow wrote:For this reason: for kids who were born post 9/11. For them, 9/11 is like a little black cloud always hanging over their head. Perhaps it's a bit optimistic on my part, but I hope that 10 years, 15 years, 20 years from now, people born after 9/11 will look at Broken Hearted, and catch a glimpse of what life was like before 9/11, and before the word "terrorism" is a part of daily life.
It's possibly glib for me to say anything, living in non-central UK, knowing no-one in NYC at the time and never having lost anyone close to me to anything more malevolent than cancer (although I do have several very good friends who live in London, and have done for years), but... I'm optimistically confident that the word 'terrorism' will be as... meaningless and empty to people 20 years on as 'the threat of communism' is to people today. Not to suggest that terrorism itself will go away, even necessarily reduce in risk, but it's dwelled upon today by the public consciousness totally out of proportion with the impact on most people's lives. Twenty or so years ago there were still people expecting nuclear war with Soviet Russia at any moment - in twenty more years' time I have little doubt that people with have had time to rationalise the actual threat terrorism represents over the emotional impact.

Conversely, I think that character pieces like this are more likely to be appreciated by people in twenty years' time for their alternate insight into the effects of the event itself. According to Wikipedia, in the year of my birth terrorists blew up a Bologna railway station and killed 85 people. I know of this event only from a cold historical perspective; I imagine there was a similar, albeit smaller-scale, rush of confusion and misery, transport was probably suspended for a day or so, but all I know is the numbers.
Alessio wrote: - Two small bugs: "Heather turns to Nat." should rather be "Heather turns to me", and "I'll pick you up when classes are over" etc. should be spoken by Heather.
IIRC, also, Jack's referred to by the pronoun 'her' when he calls Nat asking after Heather.
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#12 Post by Reflection » Thu Sep 14, 2006 9:50 pm

Alessio wrote:- Very nice artwork, very individual style. Liked it very much. I'm wondering why the colours surrounding the lines are a bit unclean - did that happen during the colouring process?
Yes. It took me a while to get up the courage to try for colours, so a few days before this was put up, I coloured the images. I don't usually use a PC for my art, only scanning it, so the colours are a bit edgy sometimes, but since on a whole the images are shrunk down quite a bit, I thought it was okay.

Glad you still liked it! ^^

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#13 Post by DragonOfLore » Fri Sep 15, 2006 2:41 am

Very well done.

I never had any connection to 9/11, nor have i ever lost a loved one. Yet all the same the story moved me deeply.

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#14 Post by Adorya » Sun Sep 17, 2006 2:48 pm

Broken Hearted has been noticed in Japan by the writer of the english aeleth translated Visual Novel OMGWTFOTL :

The blog entry

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#15 Post by DaFool » Sun Sep 17, 2006 2:56 pm

I thought Nanatuha was a Haeleth regular and translator. The way the blog is dual-language is sort of unusual for an original Jp creator.

Regardless, the point made about using raw event for visual novel, that is truly using the medium wisely.

Anyway, midthrough the 'game' so far, the setting and feel has grown on me.

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