Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

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paradigmshifty
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Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#1 Post by paradigmshifty » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:41 am

########

300s... 299s... 298s...

Waiting for connection...

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A visual novel type game made for NaNoRenO 2016.

Approx. 20mins Approx. Sci-Fi

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Image
Screenshots - Presented at a slight jaunty angle (for fun)

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***Flashing Images Warning***

Please note: there is an option to play a lighter version "Start (Light)" in the main menu - this reduces the amount of animations thus saving your computer from getting too stressed out.

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Image
Made by Sleepy Agents (@sleepyagents)

Credits:

Writing/Coding/Art/Audio - Paradigm Shifty @paradigmshifty

Music - Urban Fox soundcloud.com/urbanfox

Voice Acting - Bluebird Plays @bluebirdplays


Made with Ren'Py visual novel engine - renpy.org

With Special Thanks to Abi / Whaley / qualifiedbadger / Pick_One / Lemmasoft Forums

Other Info: Android version coming soon available now! On the itch.io page https://sleepyagents.itch.io/connection-pools
(It is a direct port of the original. The game was made with a typical pc/laptop set up in mind, but if android is your preferred platform you can grab the apk and sideload that!)

Dev note: I made this pretty much solo - which is quite the challenge! It's my 4th game jam, marking around 12 months since my first released project.

What is it about and why should I play it? Oh, these bits are hard, but I feel like I should say something as I didn't want to do a synopsis!! There is some focus on atmosphere, which I think the audio really adds to, I always try to make audio an important factor in any multimedia project! The music by Urban Fox together with the occasional voiced parts by Bluebird Plays are integral to this and I can't thank them both enough for helping out. As for the story, it does have sci-fi and fantasy elements, I like a good sci-fi short with some ambiguous elements, so I'm sure that has rubbed off on me in terms of what I make! OK I hope that's enough :D Oh, and I haven't archived the code, so feel free to have a poke about if there is anything that interests you (sorry it's messy in parts)!


Feedback of any kind is always appreciated (here or twitter is fine!). Oh, and feel free to ask questions.

Is there anything you think that was done very well or not very well?
If you have played any of my past games, do you think this is any better really? If so, why!? :'D

(please feel free to block your feedback in spoilers tags!)
Last edited by paradigmshifty on Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#2 Post by MimirollCookie » Tue Apr 05, 2016 7:57 am

Congrats on finishing!
Due to my unstable connection, I can't download this. But I'll see what I can do. :)
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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#3 Post by Nylan » Tue Apr 05, 2016 1:04 pm

Sweet! I'll play this tonight.
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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#4 Post by ebi-hime » Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:51 pm

Ooh, this was such an atmospheric VN... I really enjoyed it o'A'o I don't usually play VNs fullscreen (I like to take breaks and do random stuff in between clicking through text), so I was surprised when this opened on full screen by auto - but I think having it full screen really works, it makes it a lot more immersive. The opening animations were also good at establishing immersion right off the bat, including addressing the player as 'you', and saying you're going to open an indie game... Cause you are XD;

The animations were all done so well, and the music/voice acting were incredibly effective. I really liked the music a lot; it sounded kind of distorted, which was a little unsettling, but it went with the writing well. The writing was also nicely done, there was some really nice imagery in here, some of the descriptions were so pretty u///u

Though, I don't know if I understood too much of it, haha XD;

Actually, the whole VN reminded me a lot of The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien, which is a similarly strange story that's kind of nonsensical and unsettling, with some fantasy elements.

Oh, and I did poke around in the script files, out of curiosity...
I love all the jokes you put into the name picker file, haha XD; Especially the Pikachu one. Shocking, isn't it... I didn't expect there would be a bunch of silly references in this, it made me laugh XD;
I wonder if I'd get a different result if I answered all the questions with the correct information...
I don't know what to say about this, other than I thought it was really cool... And just a really unique experience. I think it showcases a lot of features VNs have over other mediums.
Sure, you can write straight-forward stories in it, but then you can also do some really unique stuff, like adding in the animations and fiddling around with the program itself so it turns itself off - it was really well done.
Thank you for making this! I wanna check out some of your other stuff now u///u
I have a lot of commercial VNs available on Steam here if you wanna check! u///u
With a yandere dating sim, a moemoe moege about cute grills and food, a sad GxG story, a sad GxB story, there should be something for everyone <3

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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#5 Post by Amiralo » Tue Apr 05, 2016 5:27 pm

I am too ignorant to figure what was going on. But kudos to you for the awesome programming.
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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#6 Post by Yukionnal » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:41 am

Yay Ill be playing thins as soon as I get the chance.

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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#7 Post by Nylan » Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:06 am

This is a fun one. I like your approach to interactivity. The length was good, and I'm glad you didn't feel the need to explain every little thing. It leaves things open to "fridge logic" and keeps the player focused on the situation at hand. This feels fairly polished for a 5 week game.
I wish I'd been able to actually move the character, in order to keep up the illusion after Cass took off. When the narration started describing me doing things I as the player didn't do, I began to slip back into "normal game player" mode, rather than the personally involved way I felt up until that point.

But that's really quite minor. Overall the immersion was excellent.
Also, I wish I'd cleaned up my code after seeing yours! I'll be studying it further to pick up techniques I haven't learned yet.

Overall, this is an excellent game that ignores the tropes while pushing the medium past its traditional limits. There is more potential here yet, I think.
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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#8 Post by SeaOtter » Fri Apr 08, 2016 5:28 am

Just logged on to say that I like this game.

It's a bit unorthodox. That's always cool. Although I feel the beginning was a bit shaky (I don't know how to describe it ... unnecessarily rushed?) the latter half of the game was somehow really compelling for me. Part of it was the audio. Part of it was the story. It was mostly the story, I think. Like the way the guards just had this large well of emotions. And the way it contrasted with the context of the situation. Such an abstract mixing of fantasy and reality ... I found it very unexpected and a tad unsettling.

And the ending. Call me a cheater but I looked at the script to make sure I got it. It very much feels incomplete. And yet, at the same time, it very much can end there. It forced me to think about what few exchanges were made between the characters. And the context. And the position of the main character. After some time, I've come to the conclusion that this is some abstract concept presented as an allegory (the problem, the three trials, the resolution) presented in a real-life context-wrapper (internet game). Whatever that means.

Anyways. I would say more about it but an above post said this was made in five weeks. If so, then woah. That's really amazing. You don't need somebody else telling you to know that. Thanks for making the game. Please go ahead and make more like this (but longer? :3)

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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#9 Post by paradigmshifty » Sat Apr 09, 2016 10:36 am

Thanks so much for all the feedback <3 - it is very useful and of course amazing to hear that the game was enjoyed: feedback is my fuel (feedback and caffeine!)!

@ebi-hime - Woooo thank you! I'm glad you liked the distorted sounds (I added most of those with a bitcrusher to give it a digital harshness and tried to use that when the story was on certain subjects).
And you think the writing/imagery was nicely done!? Wow, coming from a writer as talented as you, that I look up to a lot as a VN writer, that means a lot to me! (I hope I can continue to improve my writing - which means I should actually take time to PRACTICE *sets dozens of calendar reminders*)

I'll have to check out The Third Policeman, it sounds like it would be my kind of story! hehe.
And yes I definitely agree that the VN format is incredibly versatile. I'm always wary of some things coming off as too-gimmicky, but I know it is definitely possible to make really unique experiences with this medium :D

@Amiralo - Thanks for the comment about programming. :) I had some help from qualifiedbadger with the text input code!
I hope the ambiguity wasn't too off-putting!
@Nylan - Thanks for the feedback :) You found some clean code in my files!? hehe that was probably qualifiedbadgers doing :P
Good point about the immersion after Cass left. I guess I was undecided whether the self-insert was part of the experience or more symbolic (if that even makes sense), which had some knock on effects with the plotting. (And I kind of knew that before I started to write, so I really should have addressed the problems that were niggling at me!).
@SeaOtter - Thank you for your kind words :D I could hopefully make something a bit longer, but I would probably need to do that with a team rather than solo!
Yes I think you're right about the conversation with Cass at the beginning being too quick (I think that's what you were referring too?). I was concerned about it dragging on too long and that people would be turned off by that and I ended up over-compensating probably. I should've addressed that in the second or third draft - but to be honest I never did a second draft! I pretty much jumped from the outline to the final text and didn't give myself the time to fix some things - I'm a bit intimidated by writing and especially re-writing, so I have a terrible habit of putting it off so much that it never happens :S

You're conclusion is pretty good, you certainly hit on some of the things I had in mind :)
Just a general note: I haven't built the android version yet, but I hope to have that ready for Monday. I'm also planning to make an alternative download site in case itch.io is ever down or too slow, but that may be some weeks away yet. I doubt I'll use mediafire because I find the ads and captchas really annoying! Please do feel free to pm me or ping me on twitter if you have any problems downloading or anything like that!

Big thanks to everyone who has checked out the game so far <3
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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#10 Post by Heiden » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:18 pm

The atmosphere in this game was phenomenal. The way you used the great ambient soundtrack combined with the slowly animated images made the whole experience slightly unsettling. (In a good way, of course! haha) Also the choice to start the game in full screen mode (usually something I hate) was a great decision, since it really brought you into the mindset of the game. (I literally screamed when I realized the game knew what date and time it was, SO EERIE!!!)

I also really appreciated being able to dig around in your code, I had a good laugh at some of the responses to jobs and names haha.

Great job on the release and I can't wait to play your next work!

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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#11 Post by YossarianIII » Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:48 pm

I have to say, when this game first opened, it scared the shit out of me. :) (My desktop looks kind of like the first screen, and I thought for sure my monitor had just fried itself.)

Also, on the topic of the intro, I can definitely relate to the experience of
having a bunch of downloaded indie games on my computer and not even remembering where or why I downloaded half of them in the first place, haha.
I think I mentioned something about liking the art style on the WIP thread, and it looks even better in motion when it's interactive. The music was great, and I really, really liked the slow, glitchy transitions between scenes. Definitely a strong, unified aesthetic overall.

My one suggestion for the future would be
I felt like there were a few too many choices between two options where one of the options was "...". I think it's interesting the first couple of times where answering "..." to Cass could be trying to trick Cass into thinking you couldn't hear anything, but after that, like at the scene with the guards, it pretty much always felt like choosing "..." was the less compelling option. Just IMO, anyway.
Also one potential bug: You mentioned that the updated version 1.1 should come with an icon, but on my Mac, I'm still seeing the default Ren'Py icon. Not sure what Windows users see...

I ran the full version (not light version) and everything went super smoothly -- no lag that I noticed.


Overall, I really enjoyed it. Very atmospheric with a strong unifying style. This was a NaNo title I was looking forward to, and I'm glad to see that it all came together!


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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#12 Post by paradigmshifty » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:08 pm

An android build is now available: https://sleepyagents.itch.io/connection-pools

@Heiden - Thank you very much for that :) I'm glad the full-screen added to it rather than just being annoying! I always try to play things in full screen, but I agree it is nice to feel like you have the choice! Eerie and unsettling is high praise indeed :D

@YossarianIII - Thanks for your feedback, haha yeah that is an edited version of my desktop! But you're on a mac!?
I had some fun with the ATL warpers, they are really cool, makes for some interesting animations! Glad it wasn't laggy for you - it seems the final build is smoother than when I was in development :)
Oh yeah, the "..." choices. I had big plans for how they worked as a mechanic to give an extra element to the game. But the plans weren't concrete enough and it never happened for the guard scenes O.O I should've made time to work on that - if I ever come back to it I'll give that some proper thought!
Oh, I'll see what I did wrong with the icon, I fixed it for Windows, but there must be something I'm missing for Mac and possibly Linux.
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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#13 Post by YossarianIII » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:47 pm

paradigmshifty wrote:@YossarianIII - Thanks for your feedback, haha yeah that is an edited version of my desktop! But you're on a mac!?
I had some fun with the ATL warpers, they are really cool, makes for some interesting animations! Glad it wasn't laggy for you - it seems the final build is smoother than when I was in development

Hmm... I might have to take a look at the code to see how those ATL warpers were working and how it's done. :) I haven't attempted much beyond basic transitions yet.


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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#14 Post by LydianChord » Sun Apr 17, 2016 1:14 pm

I don't think I ever game my comments on this game elsewhere, so I'll comment here. Overall, I really liked it! I'm always a fan of games/media that screw with the interface and make you temporarily think that something is glitching out (Undertale, MS Paint Adventures, RPG Maker horror games, etc.). As always, the atmosphere created by the visuals and audio was really cool, and the voice acting was a nice touch. Some of the written text seemed like run-on sentences to me, but I'm not sure if that was intentional and meant to convey the characters' flow of speaking/thinking or something. Anyway, that's a minor detail, and the game was overall a great experience!

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Re: Connection Pools [Sci-Fi / Fantasy][NaNo16]

#15 Post by YossarianIII » Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:03 pm

After seeing that gift art thread elsewhere, I decided I'd go around and start making art inspired by some of the games I've already commented on. The twist is, I want to do unusual subjects (i.e., not just a normal drawing of a major character).

So without further ado, here's my fan art reimagining of my favorite secondary character from Connection Pools -- the opening computer desktop!
Image


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