Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

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sbester
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Completed: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect
Projects: Crime Opera II: The Floodgate Effect, Untitled Gundam Fanmade VN
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Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

#1 Post by sbester » Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:58 pm

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DOWNLOAD HERE:
https://crimeoperastudios.itch.io/crime ... fly-effect

Contact Us: crimeoperastudios@gmail.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/CrimeOpera

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/crimeopera/

Kotaku article: https://kotaku.com/visual-novel-sets-ou ... 1840002895

Details:

Play Styles: Kinetic or with Choices

Main Route:
Over 64k words

Funding Breakdown: All funds will go towards financing the already written sequel, Crime Opera II: The Floodgate Effect (which picks up the story a full 9 years later).

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This first novel follows six narrators in their childhood, and focuses on their introduction into the Mafia world (through their parents). The story begins with the sudden death of the family matriarch and subsequently spins out of control when her two sons, Gerald and Xander, are put on the defensive, as former partners threaten to take over their collective business ventures for themselves. See through the eyes of the Gallo children as they witness murders, kidnappings, and a slew of other crimes wrought upon their households by their own fathers.

Crime Opera is a tale of both loyalty and deceit, murder and survival, and both the strength and frailty of familial bonds. These visual novels follow the Gallos as they are pitted against the outside forces of the mafia world, and eventually, each other as well.

This first installment contains 24 full chapters, and the main route is over 64k words long. At the beginning of the game, you can choose to read it straight through as a kinetic novel (no choices), or as a visual novel with choices that lead to other endings. These endings, while false in nature, *do* shed more light on characters and their motivations, revealing a much fuller picture of major events and how they were sparked into being.

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KIDS

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12 years old, Shana is the Oldest daughter of Xander and Molly. A caring young girl, wary of her father’s ways, and constantly dreams of a life far away from all that she knows.
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10 years old, he is the oldest son of Xander and Molly. An introverted boy who likes to go off on his own.
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8 years old, he is the youngest son of Xander and Molly. A very troubled boy with a dark side to his personality.
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6 years old, she is the youngest daughter of Xander and Molly. A girl who shows signs of schizophrenia and other dissociative behaviours.
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15 years old. Gerald and Alice’s son. An ambitious teenager who holds great respect for his father.
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7 years old. Oldest daughter of Gerald and Alice. She is her daddy’s little princess.
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ADULTS

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The eldest of the two brothers running the family business. Calm and relaxed, and in complete control of his faculties.
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The youngest of the two brothers. He is hard headed, easily angered, and often violent.
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Xander’s young wife, and mother to all his children. Sweet, caring, and a good mother.
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Married to Gerald. Quite stern in her ways, and never afraid to speak her mind.
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The Gallo matriarch.
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Cousin to Gerald and Xander.

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SBester – Writer/Programmer - "English Literature graduate (as well as a few other degrees). This series is pretty much an excuse to put those writing skills to use in a semi-professional way, I suppose. I’ve been writing Crime Opera over the last 5 and a half years as a response to the anti-hero fad that’s been so popular as of late, in an attempt to fix what has bothered me about it for so long. I currently work as an admissions officer at a College, and in my spare time I am either writing these novels, reading, playing video games, or playing guitar with my band (EX-GRAVITUS)."

Jaytee Sketch – Character Artist - "A freelance artist with an Economics Degree and an MBA. I have been doing art all of my life, as it’s something I love and enjoy doing as a hobby (which eventually became a job). Now I take it very seriously, doing game assets for indie game studios (like TopHatStudios) which includes backgrounds and sprites for Visual Novels as well as other commission jobs (such as small animations, portraits, and art assets). When I read Sean's trilogy I loved it and thought it deserved to be brought to life as a commercial venture. I feel happy when I can inspire others through my art, and with this project I think I'll manage to do that and more."
https://twitter.com/jtSketch
http://jtsketch.tumblr.com/


Solo Acapello – Musician - "Musician with a Master's degree in Music Composition. I've been writing music for a long time and have always wanted to use my skills to help tell a story. This is the perfect chance for that. While I have had pieces performed by the Toledo Symphony and String Quartet, among others, I am looking forward to creating music for games and am currently doing so full time."
https://soundcloud.com/solo-acapello

Giao Nguyen - Background Artist - "Hi, My name's Giao, and I'm an artist from Vietnam. I worked as a background artist for an anime studio for 8 years (BIHOU Studio/ Japan), and now I have become a concept/illustration artist for a game company (VNG/VietNam). I always want to challenge myself with freelance jobs as well."
https://www.artstation.com/giaonp

ADDITIONAL:
Brandon Caskanette - Just happens to be besties with the lead writer. Brandon is a graphic designer who created the title poster, logos, and kickstarter images for the project.
Bonesey0 – Consultation - Bonesey0 runs TopHatStudios, and was nice enough to speak with us about his experiences with kickstarter campaigns for visual novels and provide some suggestions regarding goals.
https://tophat.studio/
Trey Fletcher (Valhalla) - GUI - Has completed not just the GUI for The Butterfly Effect, but has also finished GUIs for the first two sequels as well!
https://www.deviantart.com/wingedvalhalla
WhiteCharisma - Trailer/Opening Video - The opening/preview video at the very top of our campaign was completed by WhiteCharisma, and we couldn't be happier with the result.
viewtopic.php?t=40065
ExGravitus - Video Music Theme - My band, a Symphonic Metal project, contributed a track (the one you hear in the video)!
https://soundcloud.com/exgravitus



Troubleshooting Tips:

If the game refuses to launch for you, try renaming the folders to Crime Opera (take out all the '_'s). Weird, I know, but I found that tip on a forum and it worked for me. I had no issues getting the game to load in renpy so I knew it was something in Windows 10 that was blocking it. This should fix issues for other Renpy games you're trying to launch too, if experiencing similar startup problems.

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csky
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Re: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

#2 Post by csky » Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:37 pm

This looks really awesome, though putting banned from steam in the title make me curious, care to elaborate why or/what happened?

Lynn_Dragon1
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Re: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

#3 Post by Lynn_Dragon1 » Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:32 am

csky wrote:
Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:37 pm
This looks really awesome, though putting banned from steam in the title make me curious, care to elaborate why or/what happened?
Right? I feel like this is crucial information. share the dets. :)

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sbester
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Posts: 89
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Completed: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect
Projects: Crime Opera II: The Floodgate Effect, Untitled Gundam Fanmade VN
Organization: Crime Opera Studios
Location: ON, Canada
Contact:

Re: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

#4 Post by sbester » Mon Dec 09, 2019 2:30 pm

There's a Kotaku article that sums it up nicely enough.

https://kotaku.com/visual-novel-sets-ou ... 1840002895

We're feeling pretty laid out to waste right now as a result of their decision. I cannot and will never agree with their decision, as this is a 14+ title at most in my eyes. Any support you all can offer, likes, shares, twiiter follows, purchases, whatever - we would greatly appreciate it, as this took 3 years and a lot of solo funding to get to where it is.

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High
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Re: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

#5 Post by High » Mon Dec 09, 2019 6:39 pm

Here's the article. I bolded the part Steam found objectionable:
Kotaku wrote: From the start, the lead developer of Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect, Sean Bester, wanted his game to be different from the other games in Steam’s sea of often sexually-tinged romance and horror visual novels. This meant it would have very little sex and nudity, with the focus instead on a “mature” mafia tale. That, however, has not stopped Steam from rejecting the game due to what Valve perceives as “sexual conduct involving a minor.”

Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect is an original English language visual novel (or OELVN, as the visual novel community calls them) about six children who—through various routes—find their way into their mafioso parents’ warped world. They wind up witnessing “murders, kidnappings, and a slew of other crimes,” some perpetrated by their own families. It is grim and traumatic stuff, in other words. The point, Bester told Kotaku in an email, was to set up a larger series in which the same characters age a decade in each entry, and what they experienced as kids comes back to haunt them.

Citing visual novel inspirations like Higurashi and Umineko, Bester said that his goal with Crime Opera is to give visual novel fans something a little different from the standard OELVN—something that doesn’t incessantly dangle the promise of T&A in players’ faces.

“The visual novel market is absolutely crammed with romance and horror based games, and a lot of them rely on the 18+ content to really sell,” he said. “It’s sad that developers have to resort to these tactics just to gain any kind of recognition in the market. Customers have to look really hard to find the few creators who stray from the formula, and that can be frustrating.”

He also said that OELVNs, in particular, often come across as quick and dirty knockoffs of Japanese visual novels. He wants to help show that they can be their own thing, too: “I want OELVNs to reach their true potential, so we can stop being known simply as lower quality copycats. I know the market is out there because I’ve always been one of those hungry customers. It all has to start somewhere though, and we can’t expect our customers to take chances with on our games if we aren’t willing to take chances ourselves.”

The more grimdark elements of Bester’s tale, seemingly, are not what Valve is opposed to. Rather, it’s the fact that Crime Opera contains two brief sex scenes between fully clothed adult characters, but they’re both witnessed by children. In one, an eight-year-old character climbs a tree and sees his father, a crime boss, having sex with his mistress, at which point his wife walks in and they argue. In another, a 10-year-old walks in on the father and his mistress, thinks the father is trying to injure the mistress, and attacks him to try and help her. In both of these scenes, the father and mistress are in a compromising position, but they are fully clothed The mistress, it should be noted, is 18—of legal age, but young nonetheless. Bester explained that, in the context of the game’s story, the point of having a young woman in a relationship with a 50-year-old crime boss is to demonstrate an “unbalanced power dynamic between these two participants, given that the man is a powerful mafia crime boss, and she seems to rely on him financially just to get by.”

Bester received the rejection notice earlier this week. In it, the Steam team said that when it comes to games that could feature sexual conduct involving minors, they don’t take any chances.

“While every product submitted is unique, if your product features this representation—even in a subtle way that could be defined as a ‘grey area’—it will be rejected by Steam,” reads the rejection notice. “We are not interested in working with partners that dance around the edges of what’s legal. For instance, setting your game in a high school but declaring your characters are of legal age would fall into that category and be banned.”

Bester takes issue with this, as he does not believe his game depicts minors in sexually compromised states. The question is whether or not his game counts as a gray area. From the outside looking in, it could definitely fall on the wrong side of that line, given its focus on children. Bester doesn’t think that’s a fair assessment, though. He’s been working on Crime Opera’s story for five years, and he feels like these scenes are a key element of the game.

“At its core, Crime Opera is about a close-knit family (for better or worse), and the many intertwining relationships are often very complicated,” he said. “The loveless marriage of Xander and his wife is understood to be fairly ‘normal’ to these kids, because they’re used to seeing their bitter interactions... The idea that these small glimpses of a man standing behind a woman are what earned us a ban is not only insulting, it speaks volumes about the current state of censorship and our misguided values. In fact, I don’t think anyone who actually reads these scenes in context would be able to come up with a convincing argument that our intent was child exploitation. I’d much rather they point to the violence, if they really wanted a convincing reason to ban us (though we consciously kept the violent imagery to a minimum as well).”

Illustration for article titled Visual Novel Sets Out To Buck Trends By Being Less Sexual, Gets Blocked By Steam Anywayi/i
Kotaku reached out to Valve about Crime Opera’s rejection, but had yet to receive a response as of this publishing.

Valve has a history of inconsistently policing sexual content on Steam, though it started hosting uncensored sex games toward the end of last year—albeit only in certain regions. The company has taken to cracking down on games with young-looking characters, especially. But, as ever, it hasn’t always given developers the clearest idea of where they’ve erred, nor has it enforced the exact same rules across the board. As a result, developers like Bester feel that Valve has failed to implement a clear or transparent rubric around which games get to stay and which ones get booted off Steam’s shelves and into obscurity.

“It’s only the smaller developers that are suffering from Steam’s ambiguous set of rules for governing who gets to sell on their site,” he said. “I know the visual novel market is still fairly small, and I never aimed to be an overnight success... With the ban from Steam, it looks like it’s going to be an even harder uphill battle than we ever thought possible. It’s also extremely hard to prove your case when the game hasn’t yet been released, and no one is even able to fairly examine the aforementioned scenes in context.”

Other visual novel developers have rallied around Bester, sharing stories of their own games’ ill-fated attempts to navigate the fog-enshrouded swamp surrounding Steam.

Bester has appealed Valve’s decision, but he says that the Steam team replied with the same message as before. He’s not sure what to do next.

“At this point, while we want to believe that the situation will somehow sort itself out and we’ll be allowed back on their site, it really isn’t looking good,” he said, noting that he plans to sell the game on Itch.io, but with the knowledge that it’ll drastically reduce the game’s sales potential. “Right now I’m just trying to get the word out as best I can, in hopes that Valve may reconsider our pleas if enough voices are heard. It took me a long time to self-fund this project, and my team made many sacrifices to make this project come to fruition.”
I hate how Steam's near monopoly can fuck so many people over.
Last edited by High on Thu Jan 23, 2020 7:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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sbester
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Posts: 89
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Completed: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect
Projects: Crime Opera II: The Floodgate Effect, Untitled Gundam Fanmade VN
Organization: Crime Opera Studios
Location: ON, Canada
Contact:

Re: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

#6 Post by sbester » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:31 am

Thx, High.

Yeah, we've pretty much had a dead launch on itch.io. I probably should have moved the release up when the article was first making waves, but my inexperience in marketing resulted in the poor decision to wait. Basically, we're really hurting right now.

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Re: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

#7 Post by Lynn_Dragon1 » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:51 pm

ouch, that might be a tough hurdle to overcome. I can understand where Steam is coming from (Laws around children in media get more complex by the day) but I do hope sales pick up for you, it sounds like a well thought out trilogy(?) with a neat mechanic (watching the kids grow up and all that).

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sbester
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Completed: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect
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Location: ON, Canada
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Re: Crime Opera: The Butterfly Effect [Banned from Steam] Released!

#8 Post by sbester » Wed Dec 11, 2019 12:03 pm

Thx Lynn,

It really is a shame. I mean, for one thing, these are 2d characters and we sincerely went out of our way to make sure the scene was fully clothed and as tastefully presented (given the dark theme) as possible. I'm worried for the future of VNs on the whole on Steam, as this is (at least, in my mind) one of the biggest attacks on freedom of creative thought that they've launched yet. All we can do now is keep trying to promote the project as much as possible and hope sales pick up a bit, as I would love to start paying my team for new resources for the sequel as soon as I can :)

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