Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

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Pinlin
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Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#1 Post by Pinlin » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:36 am



Download the full version on itch.io: https://pinlin.itch.io/darknights

Development blog: http://darknights-time.weebly.com/
Tumblr: http://darknightsblog.tumblr.com/
Discord chat server: https://discord.gg/b7wwHhx

Dark Nights is a visual novel I have been working on since 2014. The project got through a lot of changes and improvement. It started with the desire to create art for a visual novel. Before I knew, I was captured in writing and making all other assets. The story was originally 60,000 words and evolved into 300,000. I have never published my writing and I don't know if it combines well with my art, hence why it took so long. Because the project is old, I had to redraw many assets. It took a while to find a style I'm satisfied with. Even now, it's still hard to stay consistent.

The story had to be reworked too. At some point I was wondering why I am writing this. I didn't want it to be slap stick comedy, neither an endless drama. I was asking myself, what do I like about visual novels? While it is fiction, some themes are based on what I experienced. The plot is divided into 4 story lines. As beginner, it was tempting to add anything I could think of, but I decided to focus on a few elements in every route.

For years I worked alone, because I didn't had the guts to ask for help. In the end, I encountered many kind people that blew this project to life. I want to thank the composers, editors, proof readers and beta testers for working with me!

♦ Game info ♦

Commercial or free? Free
Release date? 31 October 2019
Screensize: 1280 x 720
Genre: Mystery, fantasy, romance, horror, psychological
Rate: 16+ for violence, blood and suggestive themes

There are 3 different type endings per route.

Romantic End | Normal End | Death End

♦ Features ♦

♦ 4 routes, each with a unique storyline
♦ 16 possible endings, 4 per storyline
♦ At least 10 hours playtime - 60,000 - 70,000 words per storyline. Total 270,608 words
♦ 8+ side characters, vary per route.
♦ 60 CG art/20+ cut scenes
♦ 60 Original background art
♦ 40 Original soundtracks
♦ 29 Achievements
♦ Opening video
♦ Bonus material


♦ Story ♦

The protagonist is student who has no goals in life. She lives in a calm village and grows bored of the environment. Despite her potentials, she doesn’t work to develop them. Suddenly disappearances occur in the village. At the same time the protagonist meets new faces. It is suspected that a new resident is possibly involved in the events. The protagonist chooses one to investigate. From there the plot separates in four different story lines. Along the story she realizes what is important to her and discovers new things about her environment.
The story is told through moving sprites, original background art, unique illustrations and original soundtracks. Despite the title, Dark Night’s world is vibrant with visuals. The story appears to be slice of life, but it quickly gets down to its true color.


♦ Main characters ♦

Image

Heroine (Miyoko/can be changed)
A strong, badass and intelligent daredevil.

Zeikun
Blunt and straight forward character. He prefers to be alone and often chases others away. Despite his cold attitude,
he saves the heroine on the verge of death. Since he avoids questions, the heroine thinks he is hiding something.

Junoru
Just like his appearance, he is a real gentle man. He always speaks in a polite manner and is kind to the heroine. On the other hand his expression always carries a little bit of sadness. He is often absent-minded, which makes the heroine wonder what he is thinking about.

Sachiro
He is a little shy around new people, but keeps his friendly attitude. He is often seen alone during night. Somehow he disappears exactly when the murders occur. He may not look harmful, but what is hidden behind this innocent face?

Kurato
A strange guy who suddenly appear in front of the heroine's house. After a few incidents and misunderstandings, he is labeled as a stalker. Despite his cheerful personality, the heroine suspect his true intentions are different.


♦ CG Art ♦

One of the parts I struggled with the most. I started out as a complete newbie in digital art. After a year of trial and error, I found a comfortable style to work with. Although, it took another few years to develop my skills. I'm a little disappointed at how inconsistent my style is, but there is a limit on what I can do within a time frame. This is the main disadvantage of working solo on a (ambitigous) visual novel. The game has in total 60 CGs, 101 if you count all variations. In addition, 26 "low-quality" cut scenes. I haven't started talking about the number of backgrounds and sprites...

Image
Image
Image

♦ Background Art ♦

Initially I intended to use stock images for backgrounds, but later I thought to give myself a try. In the end, I'm glad with this choice because everything looks coherent. Counting all variations, there are about 89 backgrounds. 8 Of them are paintings of skies. I just love looking at them and I like to share my fascination in this game.

Image
Image

♦ GUI ♦

Even the GUI I had to redesign a several times. Back in 2014, I worked on a laptop with 1200x900 dimensions (good old times). The save screen is designed to look like a diary. For the interface I went for a clean style with a creative touch.

Image

♦ Music ♦

The music was originally composed by 4 of my friends. Together with a vocalist, mixer and arranger, I created this opening video. The soundtracks aren't published yet, I intend to create a DLC later. You can preview some crafts here:

https://soundcloud.com/pinlin/sets/dark-nights

♦ Questions for you ♦

Which route was did you and play and which did you enjoy the most?
Share your thoughts of:
- Writing/story
- Visuals
- Music/sound
- Game mechanics
- Characters/overall experience

♦ Solo project ♦

Story, sprite art, bg art, cg art, GUI and programming are done by myself. I worked with a few composers to create original soundtracks and sound effects.
I recruit a team of 11 editors/proof readers to polish up the script and grammar.
This game will NOT have voice acting. It may change my mind depending on how much support this project gets.
Last edited by Pinlin on Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#2 Post by Acsis » Fri Nov 01, 2019 4:55 am

OMG!! IT'S FINALLY HERE!! I'll go and play this in a bit but for now let be be super happy and excited for this release!! Thank you for making this game Pinlin you're an amazing artist and an amazing game developer as well!!!!!!! ><

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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#3 Post by Hildegard » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:13 pm

This is the best Halloween gift ever.

I'm surprised that there are almost no comments yet because the game is simply fantastic. I love the plot and how it varies heavily from route to route. It is awesome that even the main villain and the heroine herself
(the blessing/curse part)
are different! Since in majority of VNs we're always looking at the same situation just from different perspectives, it is very refreshing to see completely different events here.
THE ART! You did such an amazing job! I was in love even with the side characters design. I think that Zeikun's route is especially rich with outstanding CGs.
The music. May I ask if we can get a list of osts used in the novel? Or, if all of them were composed just for this VN, can we buy them or at least see them in a separate menu in the game? All of them are stuck in my head!
I love the idea of achievements in the game. I have been playing constantly just to see what else I can find there (The smell of death and Unintentional seduction are so cool!).

More about the characters:
Zeikun grabbed my attention first. I thought he is very much my type, so I played all his routes. I love that his story stands out from all the others somehow (though I didn't play Junoru's route yet). In the end I felt that there could be more to the plot since the beginning was more intriguing, but, seriously, I can't complain.
As I mentioned, the art made me shaking.

Sachiro was very sweet and funny, but I secretly hoped that he had the same secret as
Kaichi.
And I was not disappointed! Thank you so much for that! I was actually reluctant to play his route at first, but after discovering his true identity I decided that Sachiro's story is my favorite along with Zeikun's route.
I don't know if you have ever seen Final Fantasy 7 movie, but a very big THANK YOU for making Sachiro's adult version look like Kadaj from Advent Children.
Kurato seemed a bit like playboy in the very beginning, although he really is your knight in shining armor type. I love the ghost and Kenriji subplots in his story. I was just a bit curious about the timeline:
has it really been a hundred years or I'm mistaken? I mean, looking at the school of that time, it doesn't feel like it (girls allowed to study same things as boys, etc.)
Kurato kid version looks very cute! And thank you for the masquerade, I've always liked these things in VNs.

As for Junoru, I haven't finished his route yet, but his first CG caught me off-guard. Maybe his art will stand along with Zeikun's CGs in my personal list. Since I already know a bit of his story from Kurato's route, I'm very eager to play and see what surprises await me there. I'm also very curious about Roya.

You might be a bit surprised to know that my favorite character is Kaichi. Seriously, he's so much tsundere in Zeikun's and Sachiro's route that I wish he had a secret route of his own. I was willing to kill the heroine just to have his CG! And after learning his story I felt as much pity for him as for the ghost, especially remembering what happens to Kaichi in Zeikun's Normal route. Thank you for giving so much background just to a side character!

Jace and Blace got my heart with their CGs. I really want to know what they hide under their masks.
Does it look like the same black armor as on their arms?

Chain is very intriguing since we don't know a lot about his past. His design stands off a lot because of his gas mask and tattoos, and his attitude is something! Wish he had a route of his own too, but I can imagine what a job it is to make it just on your own.
Lioji and Ikuya are very cute, they seem like a perfect pair of friends. I was literally crying
when I saw them dying in Zeikun's Normal route.
The change of Rasumi's character in every route feels amazing!


Thank you so much for this fantastic game! I've been playing a lot of VNs last years and I can say honestly that this VN is one of the best I've seen. I can hardly imagine how much time you spent on it, doing everything on your own. Thank you! I hope I will see more of your VNs in the future!

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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#4 Post by Pinlin » Mon Nov 04, 2019 4:05 pm

Acsis wrote:
Fri Nov 01, 2019 4:55 am
OMG!! IT'S FINALLY HERE!! I'll go and play this in a bit but for now let be be super happy and excited for this release!! Thank you for making this game Pinlin you're an amazing artist and an amazing game developer as well!!!!!!! ><
It has been a long ride, but we finally reached the end. My artist dreams became true \o/ I hope you'll enjoy the game. Let me know your thoughts!
Hildegard wrote:
Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:13 pm
This is the best Halloween gift ever.

I'm surprised that there are almost no comments yet because the game is simply fantastic. I love the plot and how it varies heavily from route to route. It is awesome that even the main villain and the heroine herself
(the blessing/curse part)
are different! Since in majority of VNs we're always looking at the same situation just from different perspectives, it is very refreshing to see completely different events here.
THE ART! You did such an amazing job! I was in love even with the side characters design. I think that Zeikun's route is especially rich with outstanding CGs.
The music. May I ask if we can get a list of osts used in the novel? Or, if all of them were composed just for this VN, can we buy them or at least see them in a separate menu in the game? All of them are stuck in my head!
I love the idea of achievements in the game. I have been playing constantly just to see what else I can find there (The smell of death and Unintentional seduction are so cool!).

Thank you so much for this fantastic game! I've been playing a lot of VNs last years and I can say honestly that this VN is one of the best I've seen. I can hardly imagine how much time you spent on it, doing everything on your own. Thank you! I hope I will see more of your VNs in the future!
I thought it's too early for people to comment, maybe the majority hasn't finished any route yet? Since many visual novels are pretty short nowadays (1-2h), people might need more sittings to get through mine.

I get that feeling when routes are repetitive. I don't want to make it like a copy-paste plot. The joy is to find puzzle pieces in every route. Though, I went a bit crazy with branching and changing roles of the side-characters. During the development, I went further with adding cutscenes in different styles.
I heard that Junoru's route was the most notable in terms of visual style. Since every route is edited and proof read by a team of different people, the sentence structure might stand out, as well as the Heroine's personality. I'm glad to know that the variety is a plus point.
I put a lot of love in fleshing out the side characters. Each has their distinctive role and a backstory. I want their quality almost to go in pair with the main characters.
The achievements encourage the player to experiment with the choice branching. I put a lot effort to program every route differently. It makes the game somewhat challenging with hidden gems.

The soundtracks are originals especially composed for Dark Nights by a team of 4 composers. In total there are 40 soundtracks. I believe 1 or 2 are from free sources, but I will mention it in a notice. The originals will be available as DLC later.

It took years to improve my art skills from beginner to my current point. When I started this project, I even considered to use stock images for backgrounds, but I slowly felt more like customizing everything by myself. Many CGs were redrawn or deleted because it didn't reach my standard. These will be in a separate DLC as well.

I've built a lot speculations around Zeikun, which is what his route is about, ironically. I'm glad his route was still satisfying!
Sachiro route was supposed to be a surprise. In the poll I made before the demo release, Sachiro was the least voted character. I see tables are turning now.
Even though I tried to add some realistic elements, the world is finctional. I didn't follow particular historical records. There were more "errors" regarding time.
Kurato's route is an opener for Junoru's route. I hope it will reach your expectations!

Since Kaichi appears in so many routes, he has quite a lot screentime. I wrote various interactions and pieces of his backstory.
Blace wears black armor while Jace wears white. The latter is not illustrated, but described in text.
I might add more routes, depending on the amount of interest. I assure you that Chain is highly requested. He is one of the few I've written very little about.
Aww, I'm touched that my writing is that impactful. The best friends-trope is often underrated. I hoped to write characters people care more about.
I'm delighted to hear that you like Rasumi! She is a very dynamic character. Looking at feedback, she is the least liked character because of reasons.
However, I didn't intend to write her that way. Her role all depends on which ending you get. Her backstory is hidden in Kurato's route. It takes a bit of digging to find the little information.
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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#5 Post by Kokoro Hane » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:41 pm

I HAD NO IDEA THAT THIS WAS OUT! Okay wow..... so I will be having fun playing this over the next several days, or weeks, hahaha. I've played up until the game's opening video, and it's so intriguing so far! I also really like the MC, how she is easily intrigued and wants something exciting to happen, and she doesn't let people have their way with her. I am happy she is just as much a character as the others!

I will give you my full thoughts when I finish one of the routes~ Not sure which route I'll get, we'll see depending on my choices.
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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#6 Post by FerventWriter » Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:59 pm

This was amazing and it is so impressive to me that it was mostly only you working on it! You are so talented!

Which route was did you and play and which did you enjoy the most?
I loved Junuro's route! He's such a protective and sweet character that I fell for him right away. How mysterious he was also kept my interest going throughout the whole playtime for sure! I also enjoyed that his route carved out a lot of the backstory of the living dead as well as other characters besides his own background. The romantic endings were really heartwarming too :)

- Writing/story
All of the different questions and mysterious throughout the game really appealed to me-well throughout mysteries are really enjoyable to play through and try and figure out, and this was no exception! I also liked that how each route gave up more pieces of the story while still focusing heavily on the romance and getting to know each romantic interest. It was the perfect balance-sometimes if there's a lot of story filler I get bored, but you definitley knew how to manage it in your writing!

- Visuals
Amazing!!! The Cgs are all gorgeous and you can tell a ton of time has been put into each and everyone-it looks like a professional company did them. I also like how they are all not the same style-sometimes the contrast between them and the clear emotions show are really cool and make them really interesting to look at.

- Music/sound
The music is great too! I love how there are hints of creepy tones or semi-unsettling ones even during some of the happy music-it shows that there's still something to be solved and there are dangers around. However, I could tell when some of the sound effects (rain or footsteps) looped. It wasn't a big deal, but it was still noticeable enough for me to pick it out.

- Game mechanics
The Auto feature is great! I moved the text speed to max and was used it on that speed and it was definitley at a really good pace for me to keep up with the story. I also enjoyed how there was a sound effect giving away the right choice in most circumstances, but that does take away some of the anticipation of trying to find out what ending you're getting-but it is good for those who want to try and get all the endings.

- Characters/overall experience
The opening was really great and made me want to dive right into the game! It was accurate too, and I wasn't disappointed while playing :). I also really enjoyed the friendships the M/C had with Lioji and Ikuya-it felt like a real friend group of sorts, and I think that's a pretty rare thing to capture in most Vns. I also enjoy that the M/C has a personality, and no matter what route it is, she's really courageous and brave! I like when the M/C has their own traits as well as some the player can project onto them.

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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#7 Post by Kokoro Hane » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:39 pm

I won't have a full review quite yet, but can I say I am really loving this??? I got the Death End 8 first, lol, so yeah since it's a death end
well in truth, more like an amnesia end, so yay I didn't get the heroine killed tedchnically?
I feel like I won't have much to say review-wise, YET, so I went back in order to make it to the next chapter on Kurato's route. It appears that going onto someone's route is more or less the player's choice than making a sequences of choices to get there, and I kind of like that, as you can just easily pick which character literally is the most interesting to you to investigate, as desired by our heroine. I honestly had no idea I'd choose to investigate Kurato first, but
the way he is introduced to the story, just knocking on MC's window and asking to stay there, so I was like..... hmmm, yeah, what the hell is with the guy, I wanna know.
Can I also say the horror elements are actually, legitimately CREEPY?
You literally got my heart races with the appearance of the ghost, seeing the bloody footsteps as it is described his severed legs walk around the school, etc. also that headless one coming up the stares really sent my stomach into twists! The way these scenes are animated is a nice touch, and really adds to the mysterious and scary atmosphere, like I jumped at a couple parts!
Anyway, now that I am back on track with this route, it'll be interesting to find out more. The fact you practically did this all by yourself amazes me to no end. It has been a long, LONG time since I have played a visual novel this good. Wow.... and it is yet another horror title, too, haha, they seem to be the most indepth type stories. I just love thrilling mysteries and uncovering pieces of the puzzle!
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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#8 Post by Klaziki » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:47 am

First of all, congratulations on the release! :D I remember seeing your WIP thread a long time ago and I was surprised to see the full release a few days ago. It must have taken so long and I really admire your dedication on finishing the game! Also, much respect on handling almost every part of the game yourself.

After playing through the whole game, I believe you’ve put in a lot of love and effort into this project, so I wanted to take the time to write you my full thoughts on the game.

I played through Zeikun’s route first, and I’d say that I also enjoyed his route the most. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure which character to go for first; I thought they were all pretty intriguing and attractive. But if Chain or Roya were available as bachelors, I might have gone for one of them first.

Writing/Story
The prologue was a bit weak in my opinion. The pacing was too fast and it felt unorganized... but I get there was a lot to cover, and each character’s route is really different so it doesn’t string together well. I enjoyed myself once I got into the character routes though.

The writing is mostly free of grammar mistakes and spelling errors. Dialogue is well done and expresses the characters well. However, I thought some scenes could have used some more description or thoughts to make the scene feel more… “full,” and make the pacing less rushed.

Visuals
The art is beautiful and very well done! Good work on both characters and backgrounds. <3 I know I can’t draw backgrounds to save my life.

My only peeve with the art is the inconsistency in style (mainly between character CGs and their sprites, I don’t mind the ghosts/creepy stuff looking different), but I understand that this project took a long time so your art style and skill changed a lot throughout the years. Personally, I prefer the style of your older art, but I like the composition and anatomy of your newer art.

Music/Sound
Music was good and appropriate for the scenes. Loved the extra sound effects that accentuated the creepy moods.

Game mechanics
It’s got everything a VN needs, and I like the addition of a “skip to next choice” button! Although I actually rarely used it, since I think it skipped over some small dialogue changes based on previous choices.

Characters/Routes

Zeikun:
I picked Zeikun’s route first because... well, I didn’t know which character to pick first and he was on the top of the choice list. xD’ I actually just went down the list for route order, since I didn’t find a route order recommendation.

I think Zeikun’s identity as the forest demon was pretty obvious in the beginning, since all the hints pointed at him. But there was still a lot of mystery on the zombies and Zeikun’s reason for disliking people, so I enjoyed that.

I was astonished at how the heroine could remain in her own house alone in this route though… literally every other night, zombies break into her house and she has to go for a night run, but she can still go back to her house and sleep like everything is fine sometimes.

Anyways, I enjoyed Zeikun’s route because I liked the pacing, and the end felt more… complete. Everything wrapped up nicely, as opposed to some of the other routes (which I will get to later). I enjoyed watching him slowly warm up to the heroine and gradually become willing to stay by her side.

Also, I enjoyed the fact Rasumi died (I think) in this route. :’) I did not like all the abuse she gave to the boys and anything good she did definitely did not make up for all the bad that she did.

Junoru:
I think Junoru might be one of the less popular types, because some girls might find him to be… boring? I personally thought he was really sweet and I loved him though. I was very entertained by the mystery and tragedy in his route.

Also, despite the sad happening in the normal end, I thought it was appropriate as one of the endings. Given his situation and role in evoking the zombies, it only seemed right for there to be an ending like that. But yes, it still made me sad, especially since he’s such a sweet guy. :’(

Since I played Junoru’s route right after Zeikun’s, I felt that the route wrapped up a lot faster compared to Zeikun’s. When I was reaching the end, I knew that it was coming, but it just felt so… sudden. I actually thought to myself, “wait, that’s it? That’s the end already?” Maybe it was the lack of an after story, or the fact that everything concluded in just a few minutes.

Kurato:
My initial impression of Kurato was that he’s the flirty and flippant type... and I’m glad that was not true, because I’m not fond of those types (no offense to any that do like those types). I found him to be rather sweet and protective.

I was wondering what happened to him in the other routes, since he showed up and wanted to live in the heroine’s house but then just… disappeared. Then I discovered his cursed form, and recalled the way he died protecting her in Zeikun’s route, and my heart just melted for him. ;_;

Kurato is probably the unluckiest guy in the game. I really feel bad for him and everything that he had to go through in the past. Nothing was really his fault, and nobody should blame a kid for being scared and running away in those situations. I’m proud of how he matured when he grew up. Though, he’s kinda… beta, getting pinned by the heroine multiple times. xD

Sachiro:
I’ll bet Sachiro is initially the least popular among the available bachelors, since he’s a shota and that’s definitely not everyone’s type. If only they knew about his adult/spirit form. xD

Like in Zeikun’s route, I definitely suspected that Sachiro was the guardian rather early in the route. I did not however, expect him to be a badass spirit hunter in the past. The CG of him fighting is probably my favorite one in the game. Beautiful, and also very creepy in the alternative version. Also, although his route lacked a kiss CG, I actually prefer the last cuddle CG. I was dying to cuddle sweet Junoru but alas it never happened. :’(

I really enjoyed the friendship between Kaichi and Sachiro here. The way they cared for each other was nice, even if they said otherwise.

Overall
The game is not perfect, but I still enjoyed it a lot! Thank you for releasing this wonderful game for free. :) The horror elements were well made and animated, and actually let me feeling uncomfortable in the dark. The boys are all very handsome, even the side ones (but I bet that’s gotten you a lot of extra route requests xD). The mysteries are intriguing, and above all, I love how each route is different from each other. The routes in some other games contain far too much copy-paste.

I’ve heard that a route for Chain is highly requested, and I’d also like to add to that. Would love to see at least a short route for him, if not a full one. :) I would also be interested in routes for Roya and Kaichi, but no pressure.

If I may add,
I’m still kinda confused about how Kurato travelled through time, what Rasumi’s actual intentions are, and how Kaichi got cursed. I’m not sure if I missed something, or I just… didn’t understand, when it was explained.

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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#9 Post by Pinlin » Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:13 pm

FerventWriter wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:59 pm
This was amazing and it is so impressive to me that it was mostly only you working on it! You are so talented!
I'm glad you enjoyed Junoru's route! In every storyline, I tried to cover a bit about the (side)characters. The endings were split into different kind of styles. One that leaves a happy satisfaction and the others, well...

I always enjoyed writing mystery. Since this is my first time publishing full stories, I went crazy on adding everything I could think of. There is a bit of romance, comedy and horror. To be honest, I lost track of the mystery aspect at some point, but I'm glad the story still got you hooked to continue. I aimed for zero fillers. In the draft version it went from event to event. I was too fast paced. Even after editing and proof reading, people suggested to flesh out scenes. I was afraid the interactions with the side characters were boring. The feedback I got so far is on the contrary.

My artstyle has been inconsistent because I improved a lot through the years. Thank you for the praises though!

The sound effects were too short on length that made the looping noticeable. I keep this in mind next time.

I added all mechanics I wish every VN has. The choice indicator is just to help reaching the good/normal endings. If I didn't add this, my inbox would be spammed with walkthrough requests.

Writing about friendships is hard, especially to make it interesting. Often people like to jump right to the bachelors. I used my own friendships as reference and what I find important. Giving the MC a personality is risky as not everyone can relate to them. I've seen enough insert-MCs so I tried my twist anyway.
Kokoro Hane wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:39 pm
I won't have a full review quite yet, but can I say I am really loving this???
Anyway, now that I am back on track with this route, it'll be interesting to find out more. The fact you practically did this all by yourself amazes me to no end. It has been a long, LONG time since I have played a visual novel this good. Wow.... and it is yet another horror title, too, haha, they seem to be the most indepth type stories. I just love thrilling mysteries and uncovering pieces of the puzzle!
I'm delighted that the game gave positive first impressions! I wonder if you tried the demo?
I laughed at your description of Kurato. You picked the route that has one of the most horror elements. Personally, I enjoy horror as a thrill, not so much on the gore side. Since this the game is pg16, it's mild on the visuals and discription, so I have to focus on creating the right settings.
I'm flattered that my visual novel made a big impact. Aside mystery in the stories themselves, I added a lot of references in-game.
I hope to hear more of your review if you consider to play other routes!
Klaziki wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:47 am
First of all, congratulations on the release! :D I remember seeing your WIP thread a long time ago and I was surprised to see the full release a few days ago. It must have taken so long and I really admire your dedication on finishing the game! Also, much respect on handling almost every part of the game yourself.

After playing through the whole game, I believe you’ve put in a lot of love and effort into this project, so I wanted to take the time to write you my full thoughts on the game.
Thank you! The WIP thread was posted in 2014. Yeah, it's a hell of a long ride. Occasionally, I tried posting updates, but I'm a type of person who doesn't show much of the progress. I changed a lot during the years though. The game has never left my mind. No matter what, I wanted to complete it in a way I can be proud of. Balancing my perfectionism and moving on was tough.
Both Chain and Roya only appear after you picked a route. They are one of the most popular side-characters. If there is a high demand, I might consider writing their stories.

Writing/story
At this point, I have re-written and edited so much that I left most things as it is. You're right that the prologue is the weakest overall. If I allowed myself more time, this is the chapter I like to re-write from scratch. The chapters show how I improved in writing. All 4 routes are different in style. I can only touch the introductions briefly, or it will spoil too much. Often players already know who to go for just by visuals. Another reason I didn't go for what most visual novels do which is raising affection points until you end up with 1 character.
I actually made the prologue shorter by requests. In the end, length is a personal preference. I feel that most interactions with the side-characters were short. I wasn't sure if they would bore the player so I only covered the important dialogues.

Visuals
I tried. Since I'm taking every role (except composing) there is only a limited amount I can do within a time frame. After completing art, I had to focus on writing and programming. When the script is done, a lot time passed by and the art is already outdated... I redrew a lot of CGs (over 16+, not to mention remake of some background art too). I did the sprite art first for reference. After I had the definitive CGs done, 5 years passed by. I tried copying my old style, but there is still noticable difference.
Lesson: please work in a team.

Music/Sound
Praises to the composers. I gave them freedom in composing with very few references. I wanted them to create something original, based on what they feel fitting for the scenes. Thanks to feedback on the demo, I added more sound effects later on.

Game mechanics
I expect people to replay, so a skip to next choice is a crucial feature.

Zeikun
The MC did change her ways at some point and Zeikun slowly bended to her preferences. I experimented with the variety of endings and pacing. How Rasumi acts depends on the MC's choice.
Junoru
I tried to go against the expectations of his character type: he is actually talkactive and sweet. His normal endings describes how the MC feels; it's sudden and she couldn't do anything even after trying.
Kurato
Roya took the role of flirty, haha. There are hints in his route connecting other main characters. His route has a lot of things going on and he bombed by near every side-character. However, he grows a lot through the story.
Sachiro
He was indeed the least popular, but after the full release, he went beyong expectations. The cutscenes weren't up to my standards as CGs, so I didn't add them in the gallery. Besides, his route already has a lot of art.
Kaichi's contribution shows how different his role is in every route.
Nothing is perfect, especially for a first release. I could have struggled for a few more years, but decided to go with what I have.
The game is true to its title, hehe. So far most the side characters got a lot of love. I enjoyed letting my creativity loose on writing the routes.

Roya and Kaichi's stories are mostly covered. I didn't expect people wanting more. As for Chain, even with the little I showed of him, I'm glad he caught a lot of interests.

As for your questions; they weren't explained in detail and takes a bit of imagination to put the puzzle together. Here are a few hints:
Blace is the only one with time traveling powers. Rasumi's intentions vary per route and ending. Many of her deeds weren't intentional. Her past is briefly mentioned in Kurato's last chapter if you play with choices.
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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#10 Post by Kokoro Hane » Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:51 pm

Pinlin wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:13 pm
I'm delighted that the game gave positive first impressions! I wonder if you tried the demo?
I laughed at your description of Kurato. You picked the route that has one of the most horror elements. Personally, I enjoy horror as a thrill, not so much on the gore side. Since this the game is pg16, it's mild on the visuals and discription, so I have to focus on creating the right settings.
I'm flattered that my visual novel made a big impact. Aside mystery in the stories themselves, I added a lot of references in-game.
I hope to hear more of your review if you consider to play other routes!
I did play a little bit of the demo, but I never got a chance to finish it because I ended up so busy! By the time I went back to play, you already released the full game, so I'm like "time to delete the demo, make way for the FULL GAME!" lol.

I agree. I am more with atmosphere than gore. A little blood is fine, but I really dislike slasher type stuff. You truly created a chilling setting!
I actually finished Kurato's route last night. I got the Normal End, then I went back for the Romantic End. I really enjoyed it! Again, I will give you full review later.

I began Junoru's route, btw
That zombie slowly coming closer and closer at me got my heart racing!!! And Junoru being a living dead but not quite a zombie was an interesting twist. I am looking forward to more of his route, he seems really interesting, and I adore his polite speech. Also, when he played the game's opening theme on piano, it sounded so beautiful, I almost teared up lol. I also found it sweet how Miyoko always refers to him as "my friend" <3
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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#11 Post by Klaziki » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:42 pm

Pinlin wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:13 pm

Writing/story
At this point, I have re-written and edited so much that I left most things as it is. You're right that the prologue is the weakest overall. If I allowed myself more time, this is the chapter I like to re-write from scratch. The chapters show how I improved in writing. All 4 routes are different in style. I can only touch the introductions briefly, or it will spoil too much. Often players already know who to go for just by visuals. Another reason I didn't go for what most visual novels do which is raising affection points until you end up with 1 character.
I actually made the prologue shorter by requests. In the end, length is a personal preference. I feel that most interactions with the side-characters were short. I wasn't sure if they would bore the player so I only covered the important dialogues.
Ah, I get it. You're right that the ideal length is probably a personal preference, so you should just do what you think is best, or what the majority likes. I find that my opinions usually do not represent the majority, so you probably don't need to consider all of my thoughts. xD'
Pinlin wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:13 pm
Visuals
I tried. Since I'm taking every role (except composing) there is only a limited amount I can do within a time frame. After completing art, I had to focus on writing and programming. When the script is done, a lot time passed by and the art is already outdated... I redrew a lot of CGs (over 16+, not to mention remake of some background art too). I did the sprite art first for reference. After I had the definitive CGs done, 5 years passed by. I tried copying my old style, but there is still noticable difference.
Lesson: please work in a team.
Dang, that must have taken a lot of time and work. I respect your dedication to go back and redraw a bunch of art. If you decide to take on another project, I wish you the best and hope that you'll be able to find some other artists to help out. :')
Pinlin wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:13 pm
As for your questions; they weren't explained in detail and takes a bit of imagination to put the puzzle together. Here are a few hints:
Blace is the only one with time traveling powers. Rasumi's intentions vary per route and ending. Many of her deeds weren't intentional. Her past is briefly mentioned in Kurato's last chapter if you play with choices.
Ohh I see!
I actually did see the part about Rasumi in Kurato's route, but I just didn't completely understand it. xD'
Thank you for the clarification. :)

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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#12 Post by chiharuchi » Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:51 am

Alright.. I haven't played it fully but I can comment on some things. I'm playing Kurato's route.

I don't like it. The writing, the main character..

Main Character:
I feel like you're forcing the whole "I'm so different, everything bores me, I'm nOt lIkE oThEr gIrLs, I'm so cool, I'm so differeeent" thing too much. It just come off as insincere, forced, cringy, unrealistic. Like she's think she's sooo deep and cool and different but there's about a thousand other 15 year olds like her. Idk. Why force the whole "I'm so different and dark and edgy and unique" shtick? To me, she's just hollow. There's no warmth to her, she's just trying so hard to be different. Being a normal girl is okay too. No need to push these traits on her to try to be interesting. It does the opposite to me.

The story:
Particularly Kurato's
God, I keep forgetting his name. He's just that forgettable. I'm at the second kidnapping of Roya (which is again, felt forceful) aaahh I have so many thoughts regarding the story I'll just seperate it into two.
Kurato:
Just what the heck is the point of him? The impression I get from his route is that you have no idea what to do with him or how to make the story spicier. So you just shove him into the same house as the MC. Maybe there's a reason for that, and even then, it still feels forced. Like you shove him in her house just so you can add some plot into it. It feels very forced and unnatural. Kurato also have done nothing so far that would suggest any, ANY affection to build between him and the MC. And yet suddenly he just kisses her forehead and I'm supposed to feel something for this? They have no chemistry at all. NONE. it's just awkward.
Story: Particularly Kurato's
The story is boring. I wasn't particularly interested or anything throughout the game. Even if you have some amazing twist at the end, what's the point if I have to go through the boring parts (which is from the beginning to where I am now) What the hell is up with Roya kidnapping the MC not once, but twice! And getting away with it? This, again, feels very forced. Like you're just trying to shove some plot into the story and you want to force a guy-rescue-girl-romance thing to happen. Which I seriously don't get. Even if Roya have a reason for it, he should've been arrested since the first time. And wth is up with him admitting he murdered someone and the MC sound convinced or believed that he did and she was fine with it! (idk it didn't sound like they were joking. If it was a joke, it was terribly flat.) wth is up with her coming up to roya's house again JUST TO BE KIDNAPPED/held hostage again?! That's so stupid. Under the false sense of "ooo I'm a smart detective" she followed him? I'm not convinced. Not convinced at all. This all seems very forced. Forced plot.
Your story does not have a smooth transition from one scene to the next. The
kidnapping
scenes and some other scenes did not have a good enough reason for them to happen. It was simply "for the plot" instead the scenes being crafted carefully to sync with the characters, their behaviors, etc. Imo, the characters weren't good in the first place at least the ones I saw anyway.

I think I can summarize everything with "The writer had writer's block and didn't know what to write so they just wrote whatever just to complete the game without passion, without a deeper thought about the story."

With that said, the graphics were really good for an indie game I think. Have potential to look like big company otome games if the skills are developed further. I saw your progress, you kept getting better each year. I really like the graphics and the character designs. Although the clothes are bland and boring.

I think the idea of what you tried to do is interesting to me and the idea of characters you tried to bring to life. They did not translate well into writing but I think the idea of it could be interesting and good.

If I finish the game, I will update my thoughts. For now, these are my impression. Why did I not wait until the end? Because I think I might not finish it.

I apologize that I am harsh but I keep having to criticize the same points again and again to other otome games also. It is getting a bit frustrating. Do not quit however. There's a lot more room to improve. The story, the plot where you're going with this game, can be interesting. However the execution, characters and writing of the game failed to do so. Again, this is just the words of a stranger on the internet. You may take it into consideration or you may not.

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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#13 Post by Meyismyname » Sun Nov 17, 2019 4:04 am

I've had the wip in my bookmarks for so long and the game is finally out! So excited to play it!

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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#14 Post by Lire » Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:01 am

This is great...
I'm proud of you guys to be able to finish this projects.
Here's my two cents on this.. https://scan-vn.blogspot.com/2019/11/dark-nights.html
Hopefully one day i can follow in your steps as well. :D
Congrats on finishing this and sharing with the community!
Not enough time..
Or i'm a genius in wasting time.. :lol:

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Re: Dark Nights[Otome,Fantasy,Romance,Mystery][Free]

#15 Post by Aquane » Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:31 am

I've played this game for only about 20 minutes now and I've entirely lost interest. I don't want the following to come off as mean, but I think where you can improve the most is the writing. The MC is just so... edgy Mary-Sue like already. Beating up Seniors? The no care attitude? Doesn't miss her parents at all? Too bored for a hobby? Not freaked out by the thing in the window? She's got no personality. This kind of person simply doesn't exist without it being a terrible act and there doesn't seem to even be any reason behind it.

I also don't quite understand the setting. It's a village, yet looks so modern inside the buildings, while the clothing looks fantasy-esque. I haven't figured it out just yet.

The premise seems decent, and the art is beautiful. Though the writing is something I can't typically overlook and probably won't finish any routes here. The MC is so far the worst offender, but none of the characters have stood out in any good way.

If you haven't played Cinderella Phenomenon, I would recommend checking that out to see how an MC is written with pre-existing history for behaving in such a negative way, and the character growth being very well written in that game for her. I think there is a lot of promise here in many ways, but you've got to build a better foundation in the writing. People need to be hooked early on to get invested, as with any written material.

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