Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

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Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#1 Post by Carrogath » Wed Apr 01, 2015 8:46 pm

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Lana, a college student and ex-magical girl, has spent the last four years trying to forget about her fantastical past. A call from her old partner, Jory, forces her back into action, and with it come old wounds and grievances. Will they be able to put aside their differences for long enough to survive one last fight, or will they destroy themselves in the end?

The script is around 15k words long and features four different endings. Walkthrough will be released over the weekend after people have had a chance to play through it a couple times. Writing by Carrogath, art by mooncakesfrommars.

Get it from the Itch.io page here.

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Uploaded the walkthrough. Feedback of any kind is welcome, though I'd mostly like to know what you thought about the routes and choices: were they too obscure, or was the difficulty just right? Did you think the number of choices was appropriate? How would you improve story flow/game structure for this VN?
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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#2 Post by Feral Phoenix » Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:03 am

it's heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere

It really is great to see the finished product!! Your choice of artist for this project was very good; this is a great style to pair with a magical girl story set in America. Lots of great body language, very expressive, much gangles and lanking from the unsinkable Miss Marjorie.

You are also probably the best I know at writing deeply awkward relationships and situations without ever making the drama feel forced. I need to advertise this at everyone who enjoyed Basiliska, like, immediately.

...Also I will have to see if I can find this mysterious fourth ending before you release the walkthrough!
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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#3 Post by Carrogath » Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:03 pm

Uploaded the walkthrough. Read the notes in the first post before downloading.
Feral Phoenix wrote:it's heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere

It really is great to see the finished product!! Your choice of artist for this project was very good; this is a great style to pair with a magical girl story set in America. Lots of great body language, very expressive, much gangles and lanking from the unsinkable Miss Marjorie.

You are also probably the best I know at writing deeply awkward relationships and situations without ever making the drama feel forced. I need to advertise this at everyone who enjoyed Basiliska, like, immediately.

...Also I will have to see if I can find this mysterious fourth ending before you release the walkthrough!
Ahhhhhh hi Feral! Welcome to LSF; I hope you enjoy your stay. :D

I... ended up liking Jory a lot, even given her glaring flaws and total lack of self-awareness. She is quite lanky, and that's the charm of her design--that and her expressions, which Mooncakes did a great job on. Heck, Mooncakes did a great job on everything; very responsive and reliable and generally a great person to work with, and the art just oozes style.

Hahaha omg the setting and the plot and everything is so niche; it's a niche within a niche. I wanted to add little details like the fact that Jory has Polish ancestry and graduated from a Catholic all-girls' high school (Lana went to public school, and if you know the difference, you might be able to tell how it affects their behavior...) but I feel like those details would mean nothing to most people so I refrained from doing that. There is a ton of other stuff I wish I had time to put in; the script could have used a few more drafts.

Well, if you can't find the 4th ending, the walkthrough's there now. Though it's the least satisfying TBH, hahaha...

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#4 Post by Seigetsu » Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:51 pm

I really liked how unique the art was, it fit right in with the music. The writing was also wonderful - I found the relationship between Jory and Lana to have this realistic quality that is not often found in visual novels. The choices were a bit hard as they were quite subtle, so admittedly it would've taken me quite a while to figure out the routes without the walkthrough. I do like the different endings as they diverge enough that they do not seem repetitive even when playing them back-to-back, yet there are commonalities between them that compliment each other to give the entire story a more rounded, complete feeling. But as with every game I've liked, I wish it were a little longer, that there were more little tidbits about the characters to discover and more adventures to come after where the story leaves off. Anyway, it was a wonderful game to play and I really enjoyed the experience. Would you consider making more GxG games in the future?

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#5 Post by NekoNutchi » Sun Apr 05, 2015 5:46 am

The UI in this game was really cool! I also liked how simple, yet full of impact the art-style was. I found the choices a bit hard though, as the previous poster pointed out, but all-in-all the game left an impression on me and i probably won't forget it. :)

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#6 Post by 9:19 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:12 pm

@Feral Phoenix: Yep, thanks, yep. I'm one of the everyone who enjoyed Basiliska.

@Seigetsu: Thanks, glad you liked the art (I'm mooncakesfrommars, in case you're confused by my LSF handle). I think Carrogath writes well, too! Owing to the time thing, I know more about some stuff, and your feedback got me real excited to experience GEM in full, so thank you for that as well.

@NekoNutchi: Thank you! Carrogath let me experiment with the UI and was there with references and feedback for the rest of the art every step of the way, couldn't have done it without her.

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#7 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Thu Apr 16, 2015 7:03 am

Finished playing it whoo! Man I died a loooooooooooooooooooot :'D Great work everyone!

I LOVED the art style, it had a beautiful whimsical look to it and there was a nice set of variations for the characters. The backgrounds as well fit in really nicely. Dat lineart. I also really liked the GUI with the way it fit the tone of the game. There were a couple minor things I think could have been tweaked, like the readability of the main menu (it took me a while to realise it read Pref) and I think you could have continued the thin lineart style to the preference screen (I think something similar to the pale pink flowers and lines over the eye on the main menu would have worked really well instead of the heavier scribble and green flowers) but overall it was really stunning. Also really liked the music, totally fit the mood of the game~ I'm not super knowledgable about music though so all I can say is I liked it!

I really enjoyed the story! I had a lot of fun reading the dialogue between the characters, they are quite a colourful pair. Personally I did find the choices a little hard. I got ending 1 and 2 myself, but only after dying a whole lot, and eventually looked at the walk through for the other 2. I think the main reason for that was it was a bit hard to see how the choices connected together and also how the reactions worked into it all. As an example, the choice you get when you wake up and you can respond in 3 different moody ways were a bit hard to differentiate. I do quite appreciate the challenge of working it out, especially the first time when I needed those new choices to appear, but trying to get the other endings after that was a bit of a stab in the dark to figure out /what/ needed to change. That could just be me though, I'm pretty sure I'm not the best VN player!

Overall I liked the relationship exploration between the two. I also liked the magical girl aspect and wish we could have found out a little more. However I do wonder if it was used to it's full potential. I feel like you could have removed it and had a more down to Earth reason why they had to see each other again and all the awesome character drama would have still worked since that was where your focus was.
I was kind of expecting the monster to tie in a little more... unless I missed something about that, in which case never mind!

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#8 Post by Neryko » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:16 am

This have got an specific and personal art style. So interesting. I'm going to donwload it =)
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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#9 Post by Carrogath » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:40 pm

Thanks for your responses, everyone! I've gotten feedback from here and other places, and it's really heartening to see so many people playing and responding to the game.

Regarding the choices: Yes! I have gotten a lot of feedback about the choices now. The differences are subtle and I was expecting people to die on their first few tries. It sounds like what people want more of is some kind of feedback so they're not left groping in the dark. Granted, it was hard to keep the conversation natural-sounding without making Jory's and Lana's reactions less than obvious.

Maybe some kind of indicator to denote when your choices have made a difference would help? Also, just more time to think everything through... I wrote all of the branches in one go and had to move straight onto debugging; I would tweak the choices more if I had had the time.

@Seigetsu: Yes, I do intend to make more GxG games in the future. Please look forward to them!

@Auro-Cyanide: It's funny that you got Ending 2 without the walkthrough; most people either got 1 or 3 (or both) and then had to look at the walkthrough for the ending 2s.
Regarding your example, one of the choices is meaner than the others ("Shut up.") and if you picked "It won't be so bad." earlier, Lana will mention something about not being in a good mood anymore. Later on that gives the player the option to respond with "Then do you really think you have a chance with her?"/"Aren't you taking advantage of her then?"/"But I'm right, aren't I?", which makes it explicit that she doesn't believe that Jory likes Gladys.

For Ending 2 you really have to go all the way with Lana's crankiness (but still be interested in Jory and convinced that you can kill the monster, hence the "common route" choices), but in Ending 2b you can kind of take a step back by saying "It wouldn't be right." instead of "It's not too late." once Lana finally realizes that she still has feelings for her.

The other two choices in that example don't change anything; one of them just allows you to be snarky. ("Totally." as opposed to not saying anything at all.)
Granted, there are a ton of options that don't lead anywhere, but you peek at the walkthrough you'll see that there are some common "correct" options throughout the routes. Those "correct" options exist mainly because the game is partially point-based. It's pretty complicated. :'D I think if you pay really close attention to the implications of the correct choices, the logic makes sense? But it's probably not that obvious when you're playing the game for the first time and have no idea what's going on.

It's funny that you should mention how the character drama (Lana's reasons for breaking up, Jory's problems with Gladys) could be put into a different context because all that stuff was added after I came up with the initial concept. I will admit that the concept was more interesting than the execution... There are bits and pieces here and there that explain how their relationship came about and why Jory is so stuck on Lana, though I didn't get to explore their past as much as I wanted to.
Nah, the monster's just a monster. It's a little disturbing to them because it's been so long since the last one, but they know so little about what they were doing in the first place that they end up arguing about stupid stuff to distract themselves. Among other things, Jory was heavily emotionally dependent on Lana while they were fighting, which explains why she's still so fixated on her years later. Lana doesn't want to have anything to do with her anymore, but she forces herself to kind of suck it up and deal with it because they'll die if they can't cooperate. The background drama is pretty mundane, but the main reason they're squabbling is because neither of them want to die and they're falling back on old habits to cope with it.
Yeah, OK, this post is already too long... Thank you for the lengthy response, and I hope you have a little better insight as to how I wrote the game.

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#10 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Sat Apr 18, 2015 10:33 am

Ah, I see! It does make sense once you explain it, but for a player they don't really have that much knowledge about the situation so maybe you could try either leading in a little bit more, or not being quite as subtle with the reaction? For instance with the example we are using, the players have no idea if Jory knows we are in a good mood at the beginning because that part is presented as being internal and Jory doesn't comment on it. With the second bit, you aren't really presented with a reason for being super rude in the morning either. Like, someone just brought me food, I'm at least going to crank up the niceness to sassy. However, if Lana had made the comment in the car for Jory to respond to and then you clued people in that Lana /might/ consider being cranky in the morning, the choices might link up a bit more. I'm not saying make it super easy to choose, but since not all choices lead somewhere the player can't even use a process of elimination to figure out the choices if they get stuck. A couple more clues could have helped there I think :)

I think your writing of character drama is definitely one of your strong points. The different endings and the conflict between the two characters is where the game really shines and I enjoyed those bits a lot. I personally was expecting it all to tie together a little bit more though. Like, since the game is called 'Green Eyed Monster' and Jory was always going on about Gladys being on her back all the time, I was expecting the monster to /be/ Gladys, or related. Which would have made for an interesting scenario where you've just helped your ex-girlfriend kill their current girlfriend and what it meant for all your magical girl stuff prior to that. I was waiting for both the monster and Gladys to become relevant to the plot rather than just there to create conflict between Jory and Lana. But I think overall that is a fairly minor thing since I enjoyed the dialogue so much!

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#11 Post by Carassaurat » Sat Apr 18, 2015 11:52 am

I just played this today, and I really liked it. A good part of the reason I'm so impressed is that I tried to write this kind of difficult relationship stuff myself in the past and just failed absolutely miserably at it. That you can keep it up, keep it interesting, and keep it (almost) free of bad jokes despite the ridiculous premise is admirable. Themes in a magical girl story are hitting home and I don't know what's going on. I had never heard of mooncakesfrommars before, but consider me a fan. It's great how the two characters have a grumpy and an angry expression and almost nothing else.

To be complete honest with you though, I was terrible at actually getting any endings.
I died five or six times in a row and just went straight to the walkthrough. What got me was that the first three or four decisions that come up basically have one right answer, so I was needlessly fiddling with different combinations for them. I'm not really sure what to suggest -- the way you describe your thought process, it all makes sense, but different authors have different though processes and it can be difficult to get into the correct mindset. In general, I've never been much of a fan of 'gamey' win or lose states, and I'm not sure this VN really needed them.

Lastly, while I agree with almost all the points that Auro makes, I'm not on the same page as she is concerning the tying together. For a moment there, I also came up with the idea that the monster would be Gladys, but I'm rather glad that wasn't the case. The monster as metaphor works better for me; the novel drags the magical down to the ordinary, so making the relationships magical would run counter to that.

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#12 Post by 9:19 » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:10 pm

@Auro-Cyanide: Aw, thanks. And an additional thanks for your advice, I appreciate it! I tweaked the main menu and a number of other things, I believe carrogath is working them into an update. The preference screen will be my self-indulgence, I tried some stuff but my personal preference prevailed. On the contrary, love how you branched out to draw more body types in The Blind Griffin!

@Neryko: Thanks. Enjoy!

@Carassaurat: Thank you, I'm flattered.

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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#13 Post by Smudgeed » Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:43 pm

I have just finished playing this and (like everyone else) I died.....a lot. I did thoroughly enjoy this game and think it was very wonderful for a NaNoRenO project! It's also great to see more completed GxG games around. I loved the art and I enjoyed the characters quite a bit as well. The ui was also very well done. Actually, all of it was great haha

My only issue with this might be because this is a NaNoRenO project, but if you ever revisit this I would love to have more of a back story on the whole magical girl thing. I thought the concept was very interesting and going through the story I felt myself wanting to know more about them. I also personally felt that the writing felt a bit wishy-washy at times, and so was a bit confusing to follow. This might just be me, of course. The game was still enjoyable and the story was still interesting.

In the end, I totally loved this game! It was great and I will defiantly be recommending this to friends to play. Congratulations on finishing it and good job!
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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#14 Post by Carassaurat » Wed May 06, 2015 7:19 pm

I made a piece of fan art in the form of a 3D model for this game, even if the model is a bit rough around the edges (though it's quite neat compared to the sketches I made, which you're not getting to see). I think I picked up some neat ideas while making it -- the wide mouth is just great and I had to adjust the lower side of the face a couple of times because I kept making it longer than it was in the original art. The hair is also something that I had to make more bold in the process, and it's probably still less so than it is in the VN.

One question that occurred to me while drawing: why did you opt for more 'serious' magical girl costumes? My gut instinct would have been to dress grumpy Lana in the cheeriest pink frilled abomination I could come up with.
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Re: Green Eyed Monster [Magical Girl][GxG][NaNoRenO 2015]

#15 Post by Carrogath » Thu May 07, 2015 1:32 am

Bleugh, too many things to reply to... OK.

In regards to the choices:
Honestly, my only real excuse for this is that I was on a time limit! I wrote the choices and branches on the fly and spent a couple hours making sure that there was at least one viable path for every ending, but other than that, the branches, unlike the story itself, were very much a "first draft." For a while I didn't even realize I had put in a way to get ending 3 and thought it was unattainable... You might think that I spent lots of time carefully plotting it out, but, as you may have guessed, part of the reason it's so difficult is lack of foresight/me being new to the whole "branching paths" thing. I don't really understand how people play visual novels; I just threw in whatever made sense to me and hoped at least some people would be able to figure it out.
In regards to the plot:
OK, lessee... Most of what happens in the story is a result of my long-winded development cycle; I tend to start with vague ideas and then rewrite and revise until I come up with something I'm satisfied with. I'd only started writing material for GEM about a month before NaNoRenO started, and Gladys wasn't a character until the second draft of the story. It was supposed to delve into all sorts of weird philosophical musings about what it means to be a real, live magical girl in a world where that stuff is treated as total fantasy, but it ended up being about Lana's totally overblown grudge over something that happened to her in high school because that's what drove a lot of the conflict in the first couple of drafts.

Long story short, the plot ended up being what it is because it was easiest to focus on Lana's ridiculous grudge: it's simple, it's easy to understand, and everyone's probably been through something similar. My writing strengths just so happen to lie in the realm of drama and character development, so it was the natural choice after playing around with the script a bit. I'm sure a different writer could take the same story and link Gladys and the monster in some clever, interesting way.
@Carassaurat

Now that is a really cool model! Mooncakes designed the characters with a more realistic style in mind, so it ought to translate well to 3D. (And the wide mouth is great. It makes her look permanently grouchy.) Lana's hair is insane so I don't blame you for simplifying it. As for the costuming...
You may have inadvertently answered your own question when you said that the story "drags the magical down to the ordinary." I wouldn't be able to take my own characters as dead seriously as I did if I made them dress up in frilly pink outfits to fight monsters. Their outfits are also consistent with the art style: it's still fanciful, but the characters are realistically proportioned and not generically pretty. It would be hilarious (and absolutely mortifying) for sourpuss Lana to have to fight in a glorified sailor outfit rather than her assassin getup, but it would also trivialize the more "serious" aspects of the story.

Basically, everything in this VN has to beg you to take it seriously, from the music to the art style to the words themselves, for the story to work. The irony (and subtle humor) comes from the premise, and the treatment of something as absurd as being a magical girl as stressful and unpleasant rather than exciting and fun. The characters are going to be graduating college soon; they're a hairsbreadth away from having to face the "real world," so the way their world is portrayed is reflective of that. It's all one big metaphor, really.

I like to think of it as a sort of post-bildungsroman, where the characters have passed the point where they're expected to be mature (i.e., high school), but still don't feel like they're ready. At the end of the story, they're still not, but in the best endings, they've resolved to try and make sense of their experiences rather than forgetting them or lamenting that they've ended (or, in the case of the "bad ending," refusing to believe that they're over. You cringe when Jory and Lana sleep with each other, not only because you feel bad for Gladys, but because you know that their past relationship was dysfunctional, and that getting back together means that they haven't learned a single thing from the entire story).
...Hopefully that was all coherent.

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