Embraced By Green

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mikey
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Embraced By Green

#1 Post by mikey » Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:34 am

Hi everyone,

We are happy to bring you Embraced By Green, one of our low-budget titles. It's a short story, around 20 minutes of play, one girl, two endings (good and bad) and nothing fancy in between.

It was an idea that I had I think it was a month after we released O3 and we just did a small game from it on a relatively short notice in the past one/two months. Those who have played a certain other ATP game will probably spot a reference, but even if you don't - enjoy your time with it.

I'd like to thank our in-house team (more or less counting PyTom into it as well, if he doesn't mind) for the uncomplicated development, I had a really nice time making this game.

There isn't an incredible lot more to say. You can get the game here:
http://atp.manga.sk/games/ebg/ebg.htm
I suppose dedicated mac and linux builds should come out shortly, on renai.us.

It's safe to say now, that this is it as far as ATP's year 2006 is concerned, hopefully we can continue making games some more. Enjoy.

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#2 Post by PyTom » Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:52 am

Linux and mac versions are up at http://www.bishoujo.us/tmp/ebg/ , for the time being, until we get to add them to renai.us.

I have to apologize to the group a little, as I was very busy for the last few weeks, and I think I held up the release by about a week.
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#3 Post by DaFool » Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:59 am

OMG ATP's 11th release.
You should write a book or something called "How to pump out Ren'ai Games like crazy".

Hmmm, widescreen with subtitles, hehehe... :D

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#4 Post by mikey » Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:14 am

This wasn't really anything big, you'll notice. For a small game like this, I think one-two months is a comfortable timeframe.
DaFool wrote:Hmmm, widescreen with subtitles, hehehe...
Well, low-budget is low-budget. And actually, the BGs were scaled out of necessity, because the angle at which their source photos were taken somehow didn't work with the sprite, and it had to be adjusted as well.

PyTom >> On the contrary, I liked your comments and suggestions, IMO it helped the game a lot. And it's not like we were on any deadlines.

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#5 Post by monele » Tue Nov 21, 2006 5:07 pm

You keep surprising us with releases XD... Usually you have to wait for years with lots of anticipation, and often cancelations... but with ATP, it just keeps coming. I'll give it a try later ^^

EDIT : Darn, bad end XD... I just can't get a first time success ^^;. In any case, I love it!
For someone who seems not to enjoy medieval fantasy or sci-fi (my conclusion... probably wrong), you actually always release games with a "weird" factor ô_o. So actually, what's the thing you don't like in other games? *trying to understand the mikey some more ^^*

About the game, well... I just didn't know what to expect, so it did take me by surprise. I expected something more like O3 (ah, actually this one didn't have much mystical stuff ^^) and then, wham! Along with the (very cool) music, I was hooked in this mystery... or... scientific abnormality... since it seems to be the whole point of this story XD. I still need to find out :).

I really like how there is a big number of choices. Even though it soon became obvious that there was the "mystical" side and the "scientific" side to them. It just makes things more interactive, and it forces you to think (especially with that "what she meants was..." choice). I would actually love to see a more... investigation based game with this idea.

Graphically, I'm glad to see the O3 styled backgrounds are back. I have a question about the character graphics though : is it a choice to have them aliased? While it makes them stand out, it seems a bit unpolished. I'm not saying it's absolutely bad (it could be part of the style), but it makes me wonder if it would better with smoothed sprites ^^
Ok, I'll try again X3

EDIT/PostScriptum : too many "waiting cursors" ^^;...

EDIT 3!! : Argh! Just can't get the good ending ;o;...
I think I understand the rather obvious hints of the bad ending, but still... do we need to get 100% good or is there room for errors?... Because while I am pretty sure of 95% of my choices, there a few ones (let her lead or lead the way) which are not obvious as to which one is best. Also, at the end... I guess you *really* need to get a unique combination of the two good last choices in addition to everything else?...

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#6 Post by Jake » Tue Nov 21, 2006 6:36 pm

One thing - a typo, by the looks of it: "There are buildings, houses around, even though they can't be seen >from inside the park."

[EDIT: Another thing - "Wonder what Yumiko was a child" - seems like it probably ought to be "Wonder what Yumiko was like as a child"?]

And man, are you sure there's more than one ending? I've tried three different thematic approaches to choices, and still only got 'bad end'.
"Purely scientific" was my first attempt, "Purely unscientific" for the second try, and "trying to be as nice as possible to Yumi" for the third... although in each run there were questions I just had to guess with 'cause either option seemed equally fitting.
On one hand, I like the mechanic of having choices that aren't directly and immediately linked to branching, it gives the whole production a more concrete feel, not to mention helping playability and replayability... but in this case I suspect that I'm going to run out of time or patience before I get a good ending because of it. Whatever I choose I don't notice any difference at all in events or dialogue, so after a few goes it ends up feeling more like a ten-minute questionnaire than a game or a story.
The bad end seems to heavily hint that 'scientific' choices are the right ones, and a lot of the questions have overtly 'scientific' or 'mystic' options, but like Monele I'm having trouble determining which the 'scientific' choices are in a couple of places, if indeed all of them that appear to do have such connotations. The last couple don't seem to fit that pattern at all...
[EDIT EDIT: OK, finished it.
I'm still not convinced by a couple of the questions, though. :/
]
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#7 Post by mikey » Tue Nov 21, 2006 8:30 pm

Thanks for playing!

As for the whole design of the gameplay, we intended to structure it for two playthroughs. If the first one fails, there's a relatively clear indication so that the second playthrough people basically know what to aim for. Of course this doesn't guarantee success, even though there is room for errors (3 and 2 bad choices, IIRC). So while some choices may be pretty clear, some of them are admittedly not. Well, we tried to strike a good balance, but it can't always work for everyone. The last couple of choices are final ones and they're a bit differently structured, if only to indicate the story is ending - they are not really ultimate ones, or different in terms of points. Generally, if you need to replay EBG more, it will inevitably become a quick q&a round, but I suppose this can happen to just about any multichoice VN. It's always a worry.

Jake >> Thanks for the comments and pointing out the typos. Noted down in case of a re-release.
monele wrote: Usually you have to wait for years with lots of anticipation, and often cancelations... but with ATP, it just keeps coming.
The drawback is of course that a lot of the time concessions need to be made and the stories are often shorter, as well as being less polished. An example you mentioned are the characters, they are bitmaps, no antialias possible for now. One day, one filter, perhaps - but I didn't want to push it, as it would cost Kathryn a lot of time in the current situation. It's not like I deliberately want to make it look cheap or unpolished, in fact we try to do as much as we can at that moment, but when given the choice to wait & improve or take what I have, I will always take what I have, and I usually want to move on.
monele wrote: So actually, what's the thing you don't like in other games?
The conclusion is right, no sci-fi or fantasy for me. But I do like to put in something unusual, if only to highlight the usual. So I guess the point is, with all these weird settings of fantasy and sci-fi, you can't really make simple isolated strange things stand out well. In the world of Agaroth where Elves fight the Urkonian Empire under the command of sorcerer Garmoth, a weakness barrier is nothing special. You need to go spectacular - and in the end, it's always about the whole universe. So I can't zoom in on something specific quite as well as I can with a very normal setting. Sure there are numerous advantages to a completely different world, but I usually want to show something simple and it never really works for me with those.

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#8 Post by Choark » Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:03 pm

Got the Bad End first time through. Which is totally normal for me.

I really like the way the backgrounds are done in this and the music is atmosphereic too. I loved the title screen. Some reason it really stood out to me.

The story has me because I have to find out what the heck is happening in this game but honestly I think I'll just be stabbing in the dark, trying different combinations until success where I hope its all explained. Though I think the game gave me a 'hint' so I'll try that.

Cool stuff though. I love these "fan" games and this one was defiantly one of my favorites I've played.

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#9 Post by DrakeNavarone » Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:36 pm

Wow, yet another ATP release (not that I'm complaining). A nice little story. I managed to get the good ending on my second play through, so it's not that incredibly difficult, unlike O3, don't remember how many times I failed before reaching Part II. The graphics and music were nice as always, really provided an atmosphere to the story (which to me, is a story that really is about the atmosphere).
I also liked the fact that the story did indeed have a scientific explanation for the whole thing. Games of this sort (and I thought this one too, first going into it) tend towards the more mystical themes, so it was definitely a nice break from the norm.
The only bad thing I have to say is that I didn't like Yumiko that much. Not that I hated her. I didn't have a reason to. But I didn't have a reason to like her either. I just really didn't feel anything at all, which leaves me a little dissatisfied. Not that I'd purposely want to, but I think it would've been better even if I DID hate her... at least that way, she would've left an impression...

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#10 Post by Jake » Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:56 pm

mikey wrote:As for the whole design of the gameplay, we intended to structure it for two playthroughs. If the first one fails, there's a relatively clear indication so that the second playthrough people basically know what to aim for.
I think that the thing that irritated me was that it turned out when I finally did finish it that I'd been taking the right approach in my first game, I just obviously made a few too many 'wrong' decisions. So the hint at the end threw me, I started wondering if it was actually a total lie (especially since it was so obvious) and played against it, thus failing again...
That said, the thing that clued me in as to what I must have been getting wrong was that the 'more scientific' and 'be nice to Yumi' phrases alternated in and out depending on what I'd responded. Given that I'm pretty sure I only got 'more scientific' the first run through, when I was trying to give scientific answers, I wonder if my opinion of what 'science' means differs from yours...

By way of example, the choice between "Only fifteen minutes passed" and "Time flows differently in the garden" I was confused over; neither of those seem any more or less scientific than the other. In retrospect, I can see the reasoning behind it, but it was a question I had to guess at.
Anyway, I don't mean to complain too much. As usual, the writing was immersive and compelling, the premise, while bizarre, relatively interesting and nicely executed. I did enjoy the first play through, and most of the second, it was only after I didn't feel I was getting anywhere with it that the frustration set in!
mikey wrote: The conclusion is right, no sci-fi or fantasy for me. But I do like to put in something unusual, if only to highlight the usual. So I guess the point is, with all these weird settings of fantasy and sci-fi, you can't really make simple isolated strange things stand out well.
From those of your projects that I've played - most notably the last two, perhaps 'cause of a combination of freshness in memory and accessible style - your storytelling reminds me a lot of that set of writers who sit between sci-fi and contemporary fiction; Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Iain Banks and Haruki Murakami being particularly infamous practitioners of the style. I'd still call all of it - from Deadeye Dick to Radio Free Albemuth to The Bridge to Wind-up Bird Chronicle science fiction at heart, as I would Embraced by Green, but most of it is set in a contemporary world with 'normal' rules, just with a few things out of place or a twist - often of perception - that makes the mundane seem bizarre or vice versa.

As you say, an unusual element can highlight and examine the usual; a lot of the good end of sci-fi is really just the same old examination of the human condition, the spaceships and robots are really just there to pull out that one facet that the author is interested in for easy viewing. ;-)
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Nice Job!

#11 Post by SolarSnake » Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:30 pm

Nice job, mikey!
I like the good ending, it's a nice twist on what seemed like a mystical story.

I didn't get the distinction that you were trying to make in the choices, though. Being nice to someone is unscientific. It doesn't make sense how you could both be more scientific AND be nicer to her.
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#12 Post by dizzcity » Wed Nov 22, 2006 2:47 am

Gah! I can't get it. I just can't get it. Played it eight times through already.

I either get "be more scientific" or "be more scientific and nicer to Yumi". Which seems to indicate that our definitions of science must be different, because I chose what seemed to be the most logical and scientific path to me each time. I avoided the mystical from the very beginning. Admittedly, some choices were a bit tough... the fifteen minutes one was a good example, but even so, I tried both variations on the choices that seemed tough and STILL couldn't get anything!

My "ideal" choices are:
1) Yumiko and I need to get out together (nice to Yumi)
2) something we can't explain yet (scientific)
3) that time flows normally (scientific)
4) Tuesday morning, not probable but possible (scientific)
5) somehow, even in this situation, it was wonderful to feel it (nice to Yumi)
6) give her something to carry (nice to Yumi)
7) this situation can end (scientific versus nice to Yumi)
8 ) gather facts (scientific)
9) facing a difficult problem (scientific)
10) encourage her to fight (not sure which one is nicer to Yumi)
11) stick to the methods that worked for us (scientific)
12) let Yumiko guide (nice to Yumi)
13) we just needed to be more logical in our thinking (scientific)
14) think about how the playground could be connected (scientific versus nice to Yumi)
15) the inability to get past certain points (no idea)
16) because Yumiko is here (nice to Yumi)
17) the garden's time and space are different (scientific)
18 ) this closed sphere (scientific)
19) a great girl (nice to Yumi)
20) time flows differently in the garden (scientific)
21) a time-based anomaly (scientific)
22) when I'm gone, all will return to normal (best out of a series of bad or nonsensical choices)
23) I want to be with her forever (no idea... last three seem equally good)


...and then I get "maybe I should be nicer to Yumi and more scientific in my way of thinking".

If I reverse the decisions of questions 6, 7, 10 and 14, I get just "be more scientific and together with Yumiko could have thought of something."
Any clues as to what the problem is?

-Dizzy-
Last edited by dizzcity on Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#13 Post by mikey » Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:10 am

Okay, this one is for dizzcity, others don't look, okay?
For some quick assistance, press Shift+K while in the game.
Also, when in doubt, choose Yumi (over science/work).
The science choices only count when there's a non-scientific option.
Hope it helps.

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#14 Post by dizzcity » Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:26 am

mikey wrote:Okay, this one is for dizzcity, others don't look, okay?
For some quick assistance, press Shift+K while in the game.
Also, when in doubt, choose Yumi (over science/work).
The science choices only count when there's a non-scientific option.
Hope it helps.
Shift-K doesn't seem to have any beneficial effect. I used it at the choices, and it highlighted one of them. Picking the ones it highlighted got me the same ending. So I tried it again and picked the opposite of what it highlighted. STILL ended up with the same bad ending. Something's wrong somewhere.

Even if the science choices only count when there's a non-scientific option, my first plan should have picked them out correctly. Which means the problem is that what I think of as scientific must be different from what you think of as scientific. :P
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#15 Post by mikey » Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:47 am

Jake >> I figured you had probably taken the correct approach, but it never added up, I'm sorry for that. Some of the questions may even be a matter of luck under certain circumstances, but that's why we had "error" tolerances and such - although that can only help so much.
As for the style, I don't mind being categorized, even though I've never heard of the authors you mentioned, though Haruki Murakami does ring a bell, but I'm afraid it's probably an ice hockey player, the Murakami I know. :( If I had to choose, I'd probably go with sci-fi rather than fantasy, as many such works indeed have an interesting conflict in mind.

DrakeNavarone >> Thanks, I'm glad this one is a bit more accessible. I didn't want to be incredibly obvious about it, but it's a smaller game, and as I said earlier, two good playthroughs is more or less all that we can expect the players to do. So I'm glad it worked. As for Yumiko, you're probably right in that she doesn't have a significant personality, but...
... a lot of it is down to the fact that it is Etsuya's vision of Yumi, as he portrays a neutral version of her in his dreams, a concept probably explained better in GR, this was a practical version of it.
Choark >> Thanks for sharing the comments, glad you like it, the game is a lot about the atmosphere of the situation, so I'm happy when people just let it work on them (even the insecurity and all). I enjoyed writing that part a lot, so it's nice to see it could have the effect. The title screen probably stands out because of the purple color, as the rest of the game is pretty much, ummm... green.

SolarSnake >> Thanks for your remarks as well, actually it's a good observation...
... but then, you need Yumiko to work scientifically, she's your colleague. Being scientific, but still putting romance first is probably the mathematical way of seeing it. Although I don't like to see it in numbers too much. ^_^
Dizzy >> OMG, first Sailoromoon and now it's us... :cry: Well, I guess there's nothing else to do than this now:
Start the game, press Shift+K and make sure every choice gives you a point (on whichever side), use rollback if needed. Just to be safe, Shift+K gives you an indicator at the top of the screen.

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