White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

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arty
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White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#1 Post by arty » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:25 am

~~~~

Content Warnings: Contains explicit depictions of drug (ab)use, nudity, and suicidal ideation. Contains coarse language and references to self-harm as well as sexual topics. Graphic visuals can be turned off in the settings of the game.

Features:
  • 15,547 words according to Lint
  • ca. 50 minutes playtime
  • About 60 background images and illustrations
  • About 50 sprites
  • A few choices that matter
  • Two and a half endings
  • English and German language options
It took me a year to make this game, and I did most of the work myself. It's a very untypical/experimental VN so I don't expect it to get very popular, but maybe a few people will find it worthwhile. So, if you do end up downloading and play it: Please let me know what you think about it. That's all I ask for. :) Did you enjoy it? What did you enjoy? What did you not enjoy? Anything I handled poorly, or well in your opinion? Or any other feedback you can think of.

Oh and.... Heiko is a German name.
Last edited by arty on Fri Feb 15, 2019 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#2 Post by Gear » Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:11 pm

It's cool. I like it, even if I don't fully understand it. But that may be me, not you. While I don't relate to Heiko in many ways, you did a great job of making him relateable and sympathetic, despite everything that happens.

A couple of technical suggestions:
The cricket sound effects are a little jarring in how they start and end. If you use a longer clip and fade the sound in and out, it'll sound more natural.
You should hide the text window during the end credits.
Speaking of the end credits, your song selection is significantly longer than the credits animation itself, leading players to stare at a blank screen for a not-insignificant length of time. You may want to either slow down the credits animation if you want the song to stay at its current length, or truncate the song's length so players don't stare at nothing.

And a question because I'm curious: what led you to leave the female nudity uncensored but to censor the male? It's not a judgment or anything, I'm just legitimately curious about people's motivations when it comes to male and female nudity.

Overall it was enjoyable and I liked the art and story.
The best reason to get up in the morning is to outdo yourself: to do it better than you've ever done it before. But if you haven't done it better by nightfall... look at your globe and pick a spot: it's always morning somewhere.

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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#3 Post by arty » Mon Nov 26, 2018 1:37 pm

Thank you so much for your feedback! I'm glad you enjoyed it, it means a lot to me. Heiko is indeed ... not the most relatable guy I think, which I was a bit worried about. (Though, to me, he's sometimes a bit too relatable, pff.) I think what I was trying to pull off here was that while he's not necessarily someone the players relate to, they'd at least understand why he does the things he does. So basically, making him not totally unlikeable but also creating some necessary distance. This was also part of why I decided to have the player be a separate entity from him - by giving them a "shoulder devil/angel" role instead of acting as him.

About the errors:
The message window should be gone in the end, looks like I messed up there... I'll try to figure out what went wrong. Which end did you get?
Good catch with the crickets, I'll see what I can do.
The songs should actually fade out during the credits, I'll do some more testing there. Or am I understanding you wrong? I think I programmed the last image of the slideshow during the credits to be visible for like 10 seconds after the animation ends, and then have the song fade out AFTERWARDS. That may be the problem here - I could change that, since it now does seem like a questionable decision on my part.

As for your question, if I remember correctly, there's only really one scene where Heiko is completely naked. (Shower scene.) At first it was uncensored actually, but then I realized that in the context of the scene, that would feel .... wrong. He's in great emotional distress, and it wouldn't be very sensitive in my opinion. On the other hand, the scene with Lisa shows her in a cheeky way, so it didn't feel exploitative to me.
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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#4 Post by Gear » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:08 pm

I only played it through once, so I didn't know there were multiple endings. Given Heiko's general reactions to my statements, I actually thought this was a KN. I plan to go back through it again later, but the ending I got:
Heiko ends up in the hospital talking to the mailman.
If it was supposed to be an image that lasts for 10 seconds, all I got was a black screen. So I don't know if that was supposed to be an image, or if that was after the intended image, but either way I couldn't see or do anything.

And thanks for the answer to my question. It was contextual, so not related to any overarcing attitudes toward the subject matter. I appreciate you telling me that.
The best reason to get up in the morning is to outdo yourself: to do it better than you've ever done it before. But if you haven't done it better by nightfall... look at your globe and pick a spot: it's always morning somewhere.

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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#5 Post by arty » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:27 pm

There are indeed two-and a half endings. :) You got the best possible one! (I know,.....) There's also two versions of a certain important scene.
I'll definitely look into what's up with the credits, thanks for the info. Apparently Ren'Py likes to change things between the dev version and actual release version.... hrrm. Time for a big bugfixing session, I guess.

And yeah, it definitely was contextual. I like to think that I draw an equal amount of naked guys and gals normally, haha. I mean, this game only shows a fraction of my art - I've got an art blog with over 400 posts.
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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#6 Post by arty » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:24 am

Alright folks, the mentioned issues should now be fixed. I uploaded version 1.1 to itch, thanks for the feedback and downloads so far!
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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#7 Post by arty » Thu Jan 24, 2019 4:26 pm

Updated to version 1.2! It's now available for download on itch.
I fixed some errors in the German translation and edited a few sprites. I also added a new CG, by popular demand.
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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#8 Post by Dovahkitteh » Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:01 am

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I downloaded this, but it sounded undeniably unique--so I gave it a try.

And man, I'm glad I did! It honestly pulled me in a lot, moreso than most VNs I've played in awhile. I think maybe it's because it felt very visceral and straightforward--no longwinded introduction or huge text blocks, and with emotions/narrative that hit me in the face rather than feeling forced or drawn-out.

So, warning, rambly review and thoughts:

My first impression was how much I liked the GUI and aesthetic; even though the menus and buttons are still recognizably close to the Ren'Py template, the choice of fonts, style, and VHS-themed word changes really fit--enough customization to feel like real thought and mood/atmosphere consideration were put in. It reminded me a decent amount of Hotline Miami 2, incidentally...any inspiration there, or just coincidental?

When I got into the story, I was kept guessing at where things would lead, in particular the choices. I got really attached to Heiko quickly--like someone else said, he's very sympathetic, even if he's an asshole; maybe because his inner justifications for doing things are applicable to a lot of other situations/things we do. I felt dragged down with him, despite the minimal backstory we have--actually, maybe because of it, since it really lets your mind wander and fill in the blanks, and sometimes that's much more powerful than explaining everything in detail. In this case, it definitely worked.

The tankheadedness took some getting used to, but as time went on I started to rather like it, especially contrasted with humans...I had some theories spiraling in my head about what the differences were, which was neat. For not having any expressions, the body language in sprites and CGs for the tankheaded characters was well done, and actually a refreshing change from just reading a character's emotions through their face. In the same way that a movie is sometimes better in black-and-white than in color, I also felt like a lot of the game was enhanced by the main characters not having human facial features. For some reason, I really don't think I would have connected with them as much if they had.

Sound effects were good, not too many but fit well. I also liked the music choices (with the exception of the one vocal track that played somewhere during the game, vocals are a bit hard to listen to while trying to focus on reading), so well done in both regards there!

Overall, it seemed like the clear product of love and effort, and I found it genuinely moving. I've been writing about drug abuse both in a literal and allegorical sense recently, and maybe for that reason I really connected with the story. I don't think typing up an analysis here would do it justice, since I found it more resonant in the Lynch/Jodorowsky/Serial Experiments Lain type way, where you sort of understand things with your gut or in a visceral sense rather than a logical one.

I hope you continue to make more games in the future, I'll most certainly give them a try!
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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#9 Post by arty » Sat Jan 26, 2019 7:54 am

@Dovahkitteh
Thank you so much for your review/thoughts! I am so happy about every single comment I get, especially when it's thoughtful ones like yours. I'm sorry for the wall of text that is about to follow, but I read your comment many times and I want to address as much of it as I can.

Out of interest, which ending did you get? I'm super glad you enjoyed the game! It was my first finished project, which I think was finished mostly because of the straightforward and direct nature you pointed out. I didn't want to let myself get distracted or side-tracked. I wanted to skip all the prelude that we've heard numerous times before. I just wanted to tell the story, without frills. :)

I actually have a huge weakness for the whole VHS aesthetic thing. I was extremely excited that I was able to use it for this project. While I didn't aim for making a completely custom GUI (not a Renpy pro, unfortunately), I was hoping to give it some personality at least. I'm glad it worked! And I know basically nothing about Hotline Miami, but I think I'll go check it out now.

It's always very interesting to me to see how people react to Heiko and the tank folk! When it comes to his personality and to the whole tank heads thing: Like you said, one could probably write long analyses and pick the whole thing apart, but if I may meme for a moment: "There's a lot to unpack here, but let's just throw away the whole suitcase." :'D
Drawing all the art for this took a long time - even though towards the end, I did a real marathon. I know that it's maybe not as pretty or refined as the art for other games. In fact I considered hiring at least a background artist. But apart from my budget being very low, I also thought that it would maybe not suit the feel of the game if it had much fancier art than it does now. My focus was on getting the emotions across by any means available to me, so I'm glad I managed to do that despite the limitations I had!

I'm also glad you liked the music/sounds. I had worries about the vocals being distracting, if it's the part I think you mean I was hoping the less "involved" text during that part would make it not all too distracting. But thank you for telling me this, I will definitely keep it in mind for future projects.

I don't have any concrete plans/ideas for more games yet, but I definitely would like to continue making them. So I hope I will come up with something. Thanks again for playing and commenting!

Cheers!
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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#10 Post by Dovahkitteh » Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:46 am

arty wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 7:54 am
Out of interest, which ending did you get?
I played through for both endings, actually!
(I got the "bad" one first, cutting off after Heiko overdoses, then replayed and got the second ending)
I also liked them both--
the bad/shorter ending actually felt just as satisfying as the more pleasant one. Maybe moreso?
I know that it's maybe not as pretty or refined as the art for other games. In fact I considered hiring at least a background artist. But apart from my budget being very low, I also thought that it would maybe not suit the feel of the game if it had much fancier art than it does now. My focus was on getting the emotions across by any means available to me, so I'm glad I managed to do that despite the limitations I had!
Yeah, I don't think fancier art would've added much more. Like I mentioned before, I think the straightforwardness of it is a strong point! I don't doubt that it was a huge amount of work, though, with all the CGs and their variations (and the sprite variations). My inner dev highly appreciates stuff like Heiko having a towel on his sprite when coming out of the shower, vs something like not showing his portrait at all or not using a variation.

If you do end up making more games, it might be worth pulling in a BG artist just for speed's sake, though, and to let you focus on drawing more characters etc. You could also throw together a small Kickstarter if budget is an issue--I'm sure people would hop on board to help out :D

Best of luck! <3
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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#11 Post by arty » Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:36 am

Dovahkitteh wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:46 am
I played through for both endings, actually!
Hmmm! It seems like you didn't get the *terrible* ending, then. There are two and a half endings, one and a half of them being the ones you got, I believe. There's a special ending for messing up in every way imaginable. I think I will make video recordings or something of all the endings soon, so people can check out the ones they may have missed.
Yeah, I don't think fancier art would've added much more. Like I mentioned before, I think the straightforwardness of it is a strong point! I don't doubt that it was a huge amount of work, though, with all the CGs and their variations (and the sprite variations). My inner dev highly appreciates stuff like Heiko having a towel on his sprite when coming out of the shower, vs something like not showing his portrait at all or not using a variation.
It's just a big pet peeve of mine with games and VNs in particular when the characters always look the same. I understand that not everyone can afford commissioning a lot of sprites and CGs or draw them themselves, but I wish devs - especially those with plenty budget - would put more attention and care into this. A lot of the time, even a small edit can make a huge difference.
If you do end up making more games, it might be worth pulling in a BG artist just for speed's sake, though, and to let you focus on drawing more characters etc. You could also throw together a small Kickstarter if budget is an issue--I'm sure people would hop on board to help out :D
That sounds like a really good idea! I will keep it in mind.
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Re: White Monday [Free] [Drama] [Rated R] [Object Heads]

#12 Post by arty » Fri Feb 15, 2019 3:49 pm

The game was updated to version 1.2.1, which fixes more typos in the German version.
Also feel free to check out the new page on the German VN Wiki! :) http://visual-novel.de/doku.php?id=white_monday
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