Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Update: Recruitment!]

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Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Update: Recruitment!]

#1 Post by Iarumas » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:56 am

Image
The Tech Demo is out. Download it here! Also, an update version of The World of Terminal can be downloaded here.

Edit - February 13th: Greeny and myapple have claimed the spots for Timer Coder and Sprite Artist respectably. The spots for Background Artist and CG Artist are still available! Come claim one of the remaining spots in the recruitment thread while it's still available!

Latest Edit - February 19th: New fan art by Happysmily, Tag-, and v3-kei. Thanks!

Liam is done with high school and ready to get on with his summer. The possibilities are spread wide open and things couldn't be better... Except that he's living with a terminal illness and he doesn't even know it. Gameplay involves a hidden timer which counts down. When the timer runs out, it is Game Over. The timer has various starting points and varies with every playthrough. As players progress, they will unlock features which they can use to their advantage in order to deal with the hidden timer as well as other extras scattered throughout the game. This game will be released for free upon completion.

Characters: (Click the pictures for a full size image!) The following pictures are all concept art and are subject to change. A number of characters with varying personalities will be present within the story, including 2 obtainable girls:

Image - Liam: Afflicted with a terminal illness; the focal character of this story. Despite having a terminal illness, his fate is not set in stone...

Image - Kiersten: The main character's little sister. Although she does not have a terminal illness, she is sickly and weak, constantly bedridden; due to this, she has been pulled from public school and is now home schooled.

Image - Skylar: The main character's best friend. They have been friends since as long as he can remember; a generally cool, carefree, and high sprited sort of guy.

Image - Bruce Bashewood: This guy gave Liam plenty of trouble for the duration of high school, but even though school's out, he doesn't seem intent on stopping. But you can't always judge a book by its cover...

Image - Avril: Liam's friend since middle school. Now that they have both graduated from high school, maybe their relationship can progress... [Obtainable]

Image - Dr. Carter: The doctor who tells Liam he has a terminal illness; depend on the player's path, his involvement will vary.

Image - Nurse Linda: She helps the doctor take care of Liam on a specific path. [Obtainable]

Plot:

Liam has finally graduated from high school. Now a world full of responsibility and endless opprotunities awaits him, but he'll have to deal with the challenges life throws at him first. Like his sister, who's conditions seems to get only worse every passing day. And the bills; combined with the cost of Kiersten's medication, who knows how much longer they'll last? And then of course, there's Bruce Bashwood. It was bad enough to have had to deal with him during school, but now he seems to be everywhere, ready to try and turn things upside-down. But not everything's bad; There's Skylar, ready to embrace the freedom of school and have fun all summer long and of course, Avril, who is basically free all summer long and is looking up to a bit of free time with Liam. With so many things to do in so little time, there's no telling how this summer could turn out. Probably best treat every moment like it's your last.

Features: A number of features to enhance gameplay.

*A real-time countdown to simulate not knowing when you might die (as with a terminal illness) and add to the immersion of the story. The timer will be hidden during gameplay, however, as progress is made through the game and paths are completed, new in-game items will help give you an edge over the timer; an in-game item (availible early through unlock) will allow player to switch the game's timer to a (visible) counter system that would show how many in-game choice/path splits a player has to make before they will reach Game Over, as an alternative to the timer
*A tutorial to explain the mechanics of the game's timer
*Fast scrolling text - Text scrolling skip (with second click) disabled to prevent spamming to skip text (Will be adjusted in order to best suit readers of all different speeds and will be replaced, if need be; if all else fails, text scolling skip will be re-enabled)
*Auto advance option - Can be adjusted within the Options menu
*Enhanced "Skip Mode" option - Allows players the choice of skipping ahead to the nearest choice on a previously completed path at the cost of a small, randomly generated time reduction (Like it? Don't like it? Feel free to share your opinion!)
*Hint system - This becomes avalible after the tutorial at the beginning of the story. It allows players to view the time length (stated as "short", "medium", "long") remaining on a specific path (shown next to/with decisions); This may be turned on or off at the discretion of the player
*Unlockable Character Bios - Character bios can be unlock throughout the game. Character bios are added only when the player has encounter that particular character. Additonal information may be unlocked over time as specific events come to pass...
*Multiple endings - Endings can be earned by acomplishing specific actions before reaching the end of their timer
*CG Theater Mode - Allows you to enjoy the CGs found within the game all in one place
*Memoir Mode - A chronical of Liam (and other characters') experiences in high school; Unlocked throughout the game by passing specific events/doing specific actions
*Unlockable items - These items will help players to better explore the game by being able to manage or guage their remaining time with more ease. Only one of these may be active at a time. [Activated through purchase from Pharmacy Menu or by completing a specific path within the game (TBD; Have an opinion? Feel free to share it!)] Have an idea for an in-game item? Feel free to share it!
*Paths - The game wih feature many different paths with varying topics and charatcers. Each path will tell a completely different story from the others.

Downloadables:

Terminal [Tech Demo]:
*Features an ending that requires the timer to run out (if you are having trouble getting this ending, simply start the game and advance the text so that the music is playing and wait a little while; it shouldn't take too long from there)
*Please note that while the timer is present in this demo, the text skipping has been maintained for the purpose of this demo
*After looking at all 6 endings, be sure to revisit the campaign at least one more time...
Click here to download.

The World of Terminal: A collection of short stories revolving around Liam and his friends in their final days of high school. Features 10 stories staring some of the cast of Terminal, all together in PDF format. Feel free to provide feedback. Click here to download.

Staff: The awesome staff working on this project! Interested in helping? Shoot me a PM! Edit: The recruitment thread is now open!

Writer: Iarumas
Artists: myapple (Sprite Artist), [In Need; Spot Available] (CG Artist), [In Need; Spot Available] (Background Artist), Yen-Dragon (Concept Artist)
Musician: konaa
Programmers: Greeny (Timer Coder), jw2pfd (Original Timer Coder), Hijiri (Sprite/Transition Programmer, GUI/Logo Programmer, and Designer), Reyire (Senior Programmer)

Fan Art: (Click the pictures for a full size image!) Also, if you would like to draw art of the characters and have it featured here and in the game, send me a PM with a link! Thank you to the current contributors (in order of pictures): SilverHyena, 100puro, Soulfool, nero279, 9:19, sorani, Happysmily, Tag-, and v3-kei! More pictures coming soon!

Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

More updates coming soon!

Story Updates!
*Storyline details
*In-game items announced

Tons of art!
*Promotional art
*More Fan Art

New staff members?!
*The recruitment thread is now open!

Demo!
*Available now in the Downloads section of the post
Last edited by Iarumas on Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:11 pm, edited 29 times in total.

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#2 Post by AxemRed » Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:08 pm

Iarumas wrote:*Fast scrolling text - Scrolling text animation skip (with second click) disabled to prevent spamming to skip text
What about people who read faster than your text speed, are you going to force them to wait? What about people who read slower, are they at a disadvantage? Will you also disable skip mode? What about subsequent playthroughs?

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#3 Post by Greeny » Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:07 pm

Have you considered making the timer based on progress through the text rather than real time? Like a +1 count for every line. While still keeping it randomly generated, of course.
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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#4 Post by Lost-Guitarist » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:25 pm

I certainly think a timer based on screens of dialogue rather than real time would be helpful and make this game more fun.

Great concept though. Looks really interesting.

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#5 Post by Genesislove » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:30 pm

Ooh, this is intriguing. And an obtainable nurse? You know how to speak an otaku's language.XD

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#6 Post by jw2pfd » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:17 pm

Hello everyone. Before I get down to some discussion, I need to go through some full disclosure. I've been tasked to program the timer for "Terminal" so you can consider my opinion and input as biased as you'd like. I assure you I have thought a lot about the usage of a timer and its context inside a visual novel. Personally, I am interested to see how it plays out and how much it will differentiate each person's experience playing through the game.

I do think that the argument for a timer based on actions instead of real-time is reasonable. Essentially, both timers can accomplish the same end goal. While real-time has certain drawbacks, I believe that its greatest strength is that it can allow for the most variation for when 'time expires'. Visual novels typically aren't about 'racing against time' and I don't consider "Terminal" to be this kind of game. The gameplay will still revolve around the usual VN elements such as interesting characters, branching story, and relationships. There will be no real incentive provided to a user that chooses to rush through text not reading it while playing as fast as they can. I am sure that having a timer might result in some people choosing to play this way, but it's really their own loss if they aren't paying attention to the story and characters.

I am glad to see some interest spring up already. I will try to stop by here and participate in the discussion from time to time.

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#7 Post by Greeny » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:50 pm

You know, I've thought about it, and I have to admit I'm intrigued to see how a real-time timer will play out.
My project uses a real-time timer in some cases, to put pressure on the player. But if the timer is long-term, basically giving the reader upwards of hours, then that's a whole new story; It doesn't become about reaching "the end" in time, because there isn't one. There is no win condition. There is only death, and how you spend your last moments.

It wouldn't be the same if it's just a linear story about a terminal illness. Because for a reader, who, at the end of the story can just go back to their life, there is no real loss. And that makes it really difficult to make the reader really feel this kind of emotion on a deeper level, because they themselves have nothing to lose. I have thought for long about how to achieve this, how to give the reader themselves something to lose.

I wish you the best of luck. If you pull this off, you'll not only have a great story; you'll bring to light an as of yet unknown potential of the medium.
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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#8 Post by Iarumas » Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:33 pm

Firstly, I want to say thank you to everyone who has replied so far, I greatly appreciate it. Also nice to see some feedback already.

@AxemRed: There are actually a number of different way I can go about solving this issue. I actually already listed one solution in the features: "*Auto advance option - Can be adjusted within the Options menu". Basically, you can adjust the text's scrolling speed, you just can't skip it, so yes would be the answer to "would I disable skip mode" (because even after the story is completed, certain parts will need to be replayed in order to get to another ending, but if skip mode is on, it would defeat the purpose of the timer). An alternative approach to that would be that in addition to adjustable text scrolling speed, I could have 3-5 preset text scrolling speed (from fastest to slowest). Depending on which is chosen, I can have it so slower readers would get more time on their time to compensate for their reading speed and decrease the time slightly for faster readers. In the end, if worst comes to worst, I can always restore the option to skip text scrolling if all else fails.

As for subsequent playthrough, incentives to play again will be everywhere. Each path will tell a different story, not just the same story with a few changes; in other words Path A could talk about spending the whole summer hanging out with friends while Path B would be entirely different, focusing on one of the other characters and their relationship with Liam. Not only that, but in-game items will be unlocked that give you advantages over the timer, making other playthroughs a little less difficult. For instance, one of the items allows players to add an unknown addition to their time once per playthrough at any time they want. To review, each playthrough should offer not only another unique experience, but items and unlockables to boot.

@Greeny and Lost-Guitarist: I actually have already considered this too, but the evidence can't be found in my current post. I plan to have an in-game item (availible very early at the start of the game) which allows a visible counter to appear; it would show how many choices/path splits a player has left to make before it's Game Over rather than to have it specificly scene based (although I could technically could use that system as well, whichever will work best). This way anyone who really dislikes the alternative may still enjoy the game without the pressure of a real-time countdown, if they wish to do so.

@Grenesislove: I'd hope so. One of my goals in making this would be to try my best to make something that can potentially be appealing to all audiences or as many as possible if I can, hence obtainable girls and in-game options to give the players a slight advantage over the timer.

@Greeny (2nd post): That is indeed the goal I have, although before I continue I have to say this: Not all endings will involve Liam's death, that is just a result of the timer running out, but I did in fact do this to add a level of emotion to the experience. As you said before, it just wouldn't be the same if it were a linear visual novel because in the end, their is little to no feel of loss; add a timer to the equation and all of a sudden, players can be that much closer to connecting with the characters. Anyway, I know that some visual novels have a timer over the choices, but few, maybe none (at least, I haven't heard of any) really offer this level of immersion. Therefore, I can hopefully help bring a new level of involvement and emotion to the visual novel scene by releasing "Terminal" with a real-time timer.

I will update the main post to reflect any clarifications I made here. Once again, thank you for your feedback!

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#9 Post by gekiganwing » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:56 pm

Iarumas wrote:A real-time countdown to simulate not knowing when you might die (as with a terminal illness) and add to the immersion of the story. The timer will be hidden during gameplay...
This is a new idea... I can think of a few things similar to this game concept, but nothing quite like it. There have been time limits in video games since at least the 1980s, but nearly all of them are clearly shown to players. There was a horror game called D from the mid-90s that included a bad ending if it were not finished within two hours... but I think this was spelled out to the audience. Also, after searching the Visual Novel Database, I found story-relevant tags such as Dying Heroine and Dying Protagonist, though none of the examples seemed to be time-dependent.

An observation that includes major spoilers for the series Mahoromatic:
If you have a character who knows their life is ending, then it will probably show in their actions. The title character Mahoro is simultaneously a badass combat android, a mother figure / potential girlfriend for the main character, and an individual who knows she has no more than 398 days left to live. This third aspect is the one I found most memorable. That said, your character is an ordinary person, but what would he do if he knew that he could die in months, weeks, or days?

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#10 Post by Iarumas » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:35 pm

@gekiganwing: Yea, I was pretty sure this was an original concept, but I wasn't going to make any bold claims unless I knew it was a fact. But it's great to know this a new idea and, by releasing this, the visual novel genre can expand further to include these real-time visual novels. In regards to your spoliers:
I actually intend to make one of the paths revolve around Liam becoming aware of his terminal illness and having to deal with it, hence the doctor and nurse in the characters' list. It will definately change the way he see the world as well as his thoughts and reactions to a number of situations. That particular path is meant to be a lot more emotionally than most of the other paths, bring players to an even deeper emotional level with Liam that wouldn't otherwise be reach if he was unaware of his condition.

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#11 Post by Patty » Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:18 am

First off... Skylar!!! *is now a fan* XD

I'm wondering about this game's difficulty... How will you be able to balance the game's difficulty (since you're using a timer that ends the game when it runs out..)...

Looking forward to this and wishing you the best of luck in completing! C:
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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#12 Post by Iarumas » Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:18 pm

@Patty: Other than adjustable reading speeds, in-game items, as stated before, are meant to give players an edge over the timer. Their uses vary from adding time to giving players hints to how much time they have remaining in a given playthrough. Additionally, a hint system will be featured in the game. It will be turned on or off at the discretion of the player. When it is on, a player can vaguely view how much longer a path will last (something along the lines of "short, medium, long") and they can then decide from there whether they want chance it and try to push through a longer lasting path or play it safe and head towards the end of a shorter path.

As the game nears closer to its completion, I intend to reveal a number of the game's items as time goes by. In the mean time, if anyone wishes to make a suggestion for an in-game item, feel free to post it!

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#13 Post by Arowana » Sat Oct 06, 2012 2:07 pm

What a cool premise! I love the idea of the timer mechanic, though I'd also prefer basing progress on number of screens/lines of text rather than real time. Using real time seems like it would require a lot more work to accommodate slower readers and might just encourage people to skim through your text. My major concern would be with the lack of skip mode. No skip mode in subsequent playthroughs majorly decreases replayability for me, but you could easily retain skip mode if you chose to count number of screens instead. Just my two cents. ;p

Hmm, for items that would increase time...I guess medicine would be the obvious one. Might also depend on what kind of disease he has - are there certain factors that would alleviate his condition?
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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#14 Post by Lost-Guitarist » Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:02 pm

Arowana wrote:What a cool premise! I love the idea of the timer mechanic, though I'd also prefer basing progress on number of screens/lines of text rather than real time. Using real time seems like it would require a lot more work to accommodate slower readers and might just encourage people to skim through your text. My major concern would be with the lack of skip mode. No skip mode in subsequent playthroughs majorly decreases replayability for me, but you could easily retain skip mode if you chose to count number of screens instead. Just my two cents. ;p
Exactly my thoughts. This would make the game a lot more interesting for someone like me. I guess it depends on your intended audience though.

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Re: Terminal [Real-Time Visual Novel][Shogun Studios]

#15 Post by Iarumas » Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:48 pm

@Arowana and Lost-Guitarist: Hmm... True, this would reduce replay value for some, but perhaps I have a solution; how about a choice jump option? Basically, after selecting a path that has previously been read, an additional option will appear that allows players to jump to the nearest choice selection, but once the player makes a choices that they have not already made, the option will turn itself off (Breakdown: Player is starting the game and gets to the first choice. They choose option B, but have already read down that path. On the bottom of the text box (or somewhere, possibly just reprogramm the skip mode option to do this instead) will become availible to select and the game will automatically jump to the next option until a new path is selected...). It could be done at the cost of a small time reduction (which could be randomly generated to produce a fair amount of reduced game time). It's kind of a stretch, but if you guys like it, I have no problem trying to make it an option in the game.

Feel free to tell me what you think about this idea. In the mean time, I will update the main post with this idea.

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