Refinery [KN][GxG][SoL/Drama/Magical Realism]

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Feral Phoenix
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Refinery [KN][GxG][SoL/Drama/Magical Realism]

#1 Post by Feral Phoenix » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:55 am

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Refinery
Magical Realism (Reverse Fantasy) | Kinetic NVL | 3-4 hours | 13+
Refinery is a NVL that I've been working on for what feels like a million years, but it's finally complete. Because redrawing the early-story assets would mean it'd take at least another year to release it, that means that players will get to see the artwork quality dramatically improve as they play!

You may enjoy this game if you like magical realism (mundane stories that involve fantastical elements), urban fantasy, and/or reverse fantasy (stories where fantasy beings are interested in leading mundane lives--think Maidragon or Steven Universe); gardens; boy+girl friendship; dorky characters; really inane conversations; stories about coping with/recovering from mental illness; gay pining; and girls realizing that Holy Crap, Girls.

The main story, Refinery, is a novel-length story about a disgruntled young artist whose college plans were sidelined by mental illness and a weird, cheerful young man who shows up at her part-time job one day. Despite what that blurb may lead you to assume, it's what we call "gen" in the land of fanfiction and does not feature romance elements.

Landscape is a novelette-length sequel story to Refinery, unlocked after finishing the main story and accessible under the Extras menu. It’s told from the perspective of Shiu and takes place a few months after Refinery ends. Its opening and ending themes are original pieces composed by 3x3holic.

For Us All is a short story-length sequel to Refinery and Landscape, unlocked after finishing Landscape and accessible under the Extras menu. It’s told from Tomomi’s perspective and takes place a month or two after Landscape. Its ending theme, "Turn That Dream" by Vocaloid composer ryuryu, is available for purchase here on bandcamp.

Both Landscape and For Us All involve GxG romance.

Story
Nineteen-year-old artist Kouro Tomomi is bored and restless. She's tired of life in her small, slow-moving Hokkaido hometown. But her plans to study at a prestigious art college and break into the architectural and landscape design field were sidelined by a rude shock that impacted her on both a mental and physical level. Treading the worn path of routine at her parents' house and her part-time job at a local home and gardening store, she feels frozen in place, trapped—that it's still too early for anyone to buy her services landscaping is not helping.

But then one day early in May, a strange young man calling himself Kuro Daiya comes to Tomomi's workplace. Everything from his hair to his beloved motorcycle stands out a mile in this town. And early in the season though it may be, he has his heart set on setting up a garden for his new house—

Characters
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Screenshots
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screenshots from Refinery

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more screenshots from Refinery

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even more screenshots from Refinery

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screenshots from Landscape

(Screenshots from For Us All not included on the basis that everything in For Us All is a spoiler.)
My Games Hub Page
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Uncommon Time (RPG Maker VX Ace) | Refinery (Ren'Py) | The Sullen Boku Girls Alliance (RPG Maker VX Ace)
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The Witch-in-Training and the Magic Seal (RPG Maker VX Ace - illustration, English translation)
Translated
Tragic Muppets (RPG Maker VX Ace) | The Gaol of Eternity (RPG Maker XP) | I Wished For (RPG Maker VX Ace) | Gathering the Magic (RPG Maker VX Ace) | Rainy Drop (RPG Maker VX Ace)

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Re: Refinery [KN][GxG][SoL/Drama/Magical Realism]

#2 Post by Zelan » Sun Jul 08, 2018 2:07 pm

This looks like my kind of VN for sure. I'll get back to you once I get the chance to play this. c: (I get you on the art, haha. I feel the same looking over half-finished drafts of my old writing.)

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Feral Phoenix
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Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 8:01 pm
Completed: Uncommon Time, The Witch-in-Training and the Magic Seal, Refinery
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Re: Refinery [KN][GxG][SoL/Drama/Magical Realism]

#3 Post by Feral Phoenix » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:09 pm

Thank you, I hope you enjoy it!! (and lmao isn't that just the way it always goes... I know from experience that if I redrew just the assets from 2014 when I put out the first demo, I genuinely wouldn't be able to stop myself until I'd redrawn literally everything, and that just isn't sustainable if I'd wanted to get a finished product out this year. sometimes "perfect" really is the worst enemy of "complete")
My Games Hub Page
Original
Uncommon Time (RPG Maker VX Ace) | Refinery (Ren'Py) | The Sullen Boku Girls Alliance (RPG Maker VX Ace)
Collab
The Witch-in-Training and the Magic Seal (RPG Maker VX Ace - illustration, English translation)
Translated
Tragic Muppets (RPG Maker VX Ace) | The Gaol of Eternity (RPG Maker XP) | I Wished For (RPG Maker VX Ace) | Gathering the Magic (RPG Maker VX Ace) | Rainy Drop (RPG Maker VX Ace)

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Re: Refinery [KN][GxG][SoL/Drama/Magical Realism]

#4 Post by Seigetsu » Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:44 am

Congratulations on the release! Finally got around to finishing the game, and overall I really liked it. Thanks very much for sharing. As much of what I say will contain spoilers, I will write it below:
I think you did an excellent job describing Tomomi's struggles with mental illness, and both Shiu and Natsuko's struggles with their orientations and what they perceive as others' acceptance of that orientation. I think the way you handle these subjects has always been impressive, as you did a great job of it in Uncommon Time as well. I find that Shiu's narrative in Landscape really speaks to me on a personal level, as I went through something similar in hiding feelings for a friend many years ago. I'd be interested in reading more about her, as from experience, this kind of one-sided devotion to another person cannot last and at one point or another you'll have to accept the reality that your feelings have more or less become self-satisfaction with having an object of affection rather than truly engaging in a relationship with that person.

Those are all things I liked about the story. If I may, here are some minor criticisms about the work. My first point may just be my being greedy - I felt the ending was a little unsatisfying. I suppose since the story's main "conflict" is Tomomi's struggles with adjustment disorder, the ending does resolve it. But throughout the story there are other conflicts introduced, such as the topic of Shiu's feelings and Natsuko's dissatisfaction with the physical aspects of her relationship with Kenichi. While the resolution to these conflicts are vaguely hinted, they were never given a full resolution. Shiu seems to be willing to pass on her responsibility of looking after Daiya's house to her siblings, and that alludes to her being able to accept parting with Tomomi (and eventually her feelings for her?), but the underlying problem of her fear for confessing to someone because of the perception that they are straight has still not been solved. While, in general, a straight person would not fear confessing to a member of the opposite sex for the specific fear that they are homosexual/homoromantic, a gay person (like Shiu) would fear the person they are confessing to is straight and would be somehow offended by the confession, thus damaging their current friendship. This fear is grounded upon society's heteronormativity, and a recently subdued but still distinctly present belief that homosexuality is an inferior identity to heterosexuality. So would Shiu realize that her fear is unfounded, and if the person she confesses to sees her as less simply based on her sexual orientation, then that person is not deserving of her love nor her friendship and that she is not at fault for that? The question remains unanswered. Similarly, with Natsuko's situation, does she understand exactly why she wasn't into Kenichi? If she does, how did she come to that conclusion? What was her journey like? How did she get to where she is now? I suppose it is alluded that she realizes Tomomi might be into her, and that it is likely she would experiment with this, but it makes me wonder if they really would get into a relationship, and if so, what that relationship would be like. That also brings up another question: how did Tomomi realize she is bi? Did she know this all along, or did she only come to the realization after reuniting with Natsuko? When she declined sex with Kenichi, was it because she was simply uncomfortable about the idea at the time due to her age? Or because she wasn't sexually attracted to Kenichi? Or she leans towards homosexual attraction similar to Natsuko? Or...? Refinery ended with some unanswered questions, but while Landscape and For Us All answered some of them, they introduced even more questions thereafter, thus why the ending seems a little lacking.

Another point I want to make is that the narratives are a little droning at times. Sometimes the descriptions feel circular, like I think I already get the point but the narrative keeps going on about the same topic for another couple screens. You use some beautiful imagery in your writing, but I feel that it is taken a little too far at times, especially since it is a visual novel so there are already visuals to show your point. Another thing about the narratives is that Tomomi's and Shiu's inner thoughts sound very similar. For that matter, the way Natsuko describes her experiences, the way Daiya describes his experiences, they are also very similar in tone. The thoughts are intricate, maybe even a bit convoluted, and lacks a sense of directness and concreteness. It is a little hard to describe, but my point is that I see a very thin distinction between the way the four characters speak and think. I don't think they are lacking in personality, and their background stories are fleshed-out; it's just that their actual narratives do not highlight those differences.

Lastly, and this may just be a personal pet peeve, but I am not too fond of the "clone superwarriors" idea. It is rather overused in popular media with little explanation as to how that technology was developed and why. I suppose this may not pertain to your story specifically per se, but I always thought the Star Wars clone thing was stupid, seeing as an army of expensive clones sharing the same genetic material is a recipe for disaster as a single disease would wipe all of them out (like the crisis faced by bananas). In your story, you mention Daiya's brothers being mindless, as such they react poorly to unpredicted situations. How would that be beneficial for war? Since Daiya, with little martial arts training, was able to wipe out most of his brothers during his escape, you would think that the scientists would have realized how poorly their plan has been executed. Instead of either scrapping the plan altogether or modifying it so that the "clones" have more individuality, they just keep manufacturing more clones and give them a bit of martial arts training as mitigation strategy? That sounds rather odd, especially seeing as funding in science isn't all too stable and is very dependent on seeing immediate results. Also, why make "superwarriors" with the ability to throw fire when you can just equip your conventional soldiers with flamethrowers? I mean, I get that it is a story and sometimes you just have to suspend your disbelief, but I do wonder why is it that you chose to use this "clone" idea, seeing as it isn't exactly easy to pull off without coming across as cliché and stale. If you simply wanted to write about a child with disproportionately deep life experiences, this can be more easily accomplished by describing a child from a war-torn or poverty-stricken country, for instance.

Anyway, those are all minor points. I want to make it clear that overall I loved your work and would love to see more of it. Are you working on more projects currently? Do you post your progress on them? Because if so, I would love to follow your work. Can't wait to see more from you. I hope you will always feel inspired and motivated to continue your great work.
On another note, your choice of music is wonderful and fitting to the mood of the story. I can also see improvements in your artwork in the epilogue - they are also fitting and did a great job of communicating subtle concepts that are more difficult to describe in words. I especially liked the Landscape CG of Shiu staring out of the window at the sky with the desk in white for emphasis. The backgrounds need some work, but to be honest, I would've been fine with stock photos like the ones you used for For Us All.

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Re: Refinery [KN][GxG][SoL/Drama/Magical Realism]

#5 Post by IronForPistons » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:15 pm

Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this game! You did an awesome job making the characters realistic, & the art style is unique and interesting. The twist took me totally by surprise, and the two afterstories were great supplements to the main story. I will be checking out some of your other work when I have the time!
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